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Asia's financial safety net is a work in progress

Political tensions have hobbled initiatives aimed at averting another crisis

TOKYO -- In early May, the Asian Development Bank celebrated its 50th anniversary at its annual meeting in Yokohama, a port city south of Tokyo. Finance ministers and central bankers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, China, Japan and South Korea met on the sidelines of the event, but two men were conspicuously -- and tellingly -- absent: Chinese Finance Minister Xiao Jie and People's Bank of China Deputy Gov. Yi Gang.

The theme of the ASEAN+3 meeting was how to strengthen regional financial cooperation through the Chiang Mai Initiative, a multilateral currency swap agreement. Beijing, it seems, is not keen on the idea.

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