Brit lands top job in China's new development bank

Why the World Bank backs China's AIIB
Why the World Bank backs China's AIIB

The UK's early backing of Beijing's new infrastructure bank is paying off.

Sir Danny Alexander, the former Treasury chief secretary, has been appointed vice president of the new China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

Alexander, a Liberal Democrat charged with implementing British Prime Minister David Cameron's austerity measures, was defeated by a member of the Scottish National Party in last year's UK election.

"Danny's appointment ... demonstrates that the UK is playing a crucial role as the AIIB is formally established. Britain's influence is being felt across the world," George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, said in a statement.

Related: Score one for China! U.S. loses Asia bank tussle

China set about building its own development bank because it was frustrated by a relative lack of influence at the World Bank (a U.S.-based institution) and the Asian Development Bank (where Japan is a major force).

Skeptical about how the bank would be run, and seeking to limit its effectiveness, the U.S. quietly encouraged allies not to participate. But in March, the U.K. broke ranks, announcing it would apply for membership. France, Germany and Italy all followed Britain's lead.

The UK has also been given one of the 12 seats on the AIIB's board of directors.

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