AIIB is coming... fast

By Carlos Santamaria 15 May 2014
President Xi Jinping of the People's Republic of China and his wife Peng Liyuan. Photo by: APEC 2013 / CC BY

A China-led infrastructure development bank is coming — and it may be sooner than you think.

The still tentatively named Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank was a deeply debated issue during and immediately after the Asian Development Bank’s annual meeting two weeks ago, and intense speculation over the planned financial institution, its members and contributors — and the role it will play in Asia’s development — continues to simmer.

Now it seems like the AIIB, proposed last October by Chinese President Xi Jinping during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Bali, could be established within the year with an operating capital of $50 billion, several reports indicate. To date, neither the United States nor Japan, ADB’s top two shareholders, have been invited to join the AIIB. Both countries have been perceived as losing out to China in the race to develop Africa’s infrastructure, so the creation of an Asian infrastructure bank led by China could come across as another big win for the Asian behemoth, this time in its own backyard.

Rayyan Hassan, executive director of NGO Forum on ADB, a Manila-based network of civil society organizations which advocates more responsible and accountable projects and policies, told Devex how the prospect of the AIIB was openly discussed at ADB’s recent annual meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan, where bank stakeholders seemed to have “mixed feelings.”