Britain says in 'national interest' to join China-backed bank

LONDON - Britain said on Friday it believed its decision to become a founding member of the China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) was in its own national interest, shrugging off US anxiety about the move.

"There will be times when we take a different approach (to the United States)," a spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron told reporters, referring to the decision to join the bank. "We think that it's in the UK's national interest."

Britain had previously said it had sought to become a founding member of the AIIB, making it the first Western nation to embrace the China-backed institution, but the United States reacted frostily to the development.

Cameron's spokesman said the British leader did not think the episode would damage London's ties with Washington and that finance minister George Osborne had discussed the matter with his US counterpart beforehand.

The AIIB would play "a complementary role" to other funding institutions, he said, and would help fill a genuine niche to provide additional investment to lower income countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

Britain would help ensure it upheld high standards of governance, he added, denying that London's decision to join the bank was part of a pattern of cosying up to Beijing too much.