By Xu Wei, Zhuang Xueya, and Li Zhen, foreign correspondents of Global Times in Pakistan, Indonesia and Japan
By Wu Zhiwei and Ren Zhong, staff reporters of Global Times
The first annual meeting of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (hereinafter referred to as AIIB) was held in Beijing on June 25th and 26th. The report of The Washing Post praises AIIB as “a platform devoted to the improvement of infrastructure facilities in Asian countries, and to the environmental protection efforts as well”. The high regards of The Washington Post is testified by the approval of the first four loans, and the appeal of AIIB to the new members.
The first four loans amount to a total of 509 million U.S. dollars
The spotlight of the first AIIB annual meeting is the approval of the first four loans. The report of The Wall street Journal on June 25th says that Jin Liqun, President of AIIB, announced in Beijing on June 25th that the Board of Directors has approved its first four loans totalling 509 million U.S. dollars.
The largest among the first four loans is a joint effort of AIIB and the World Bank (WB) to improve Indonesian substandard housing, amounting to a total of 216.5 million US dollars. The statistics of WB reveal that over 1o million poverty-stricken Indonesian citizens are living in the urban slums, where the roads, sanitary fittings, water supply and drainage call for an overhaul that may cost much. As far as Global Times has learnt, the investment will be primarily used for the transformation of 154 urban slums in central and eastern parts of Indonesia, and a total of 9.7 million Indonesian people will benefit from that effort.
Besides, the Pakistan government has received a loan of 100 million dollars co-financing with the AIIB and Asian Development Bank (ADB). The report of The Dawn (Pakistan) says that the loan will be used to build the remaining 64-kilometre section of M4 motorway connecting Shorkot and Khanewal in Punjab. The project constitutes a key part of a transport corridor linking the port city of Karachi in the south to major central cities, and on to Torkham on the northern border with Afghanistan. Once completed, the transport project will substantially cut travel time between Karachi and Peshawar and link Pakistan with Central Asian countries boosting regional trade and commerce.
Besides, the projects also include a loan of 165 million dollars to bring power to rural Bangladesh, and a 27.5 million-dollar loan to upgrade a road in Tajikistan, co-financing with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
In an interview with Global Times on June 26th, Professor Song Guoyou, Director of the Center for Economic Diplomacy, Fudan University, points out that 3 out of the first 4 projects mark the joint efforts of AIIB with ADB and WB, etc. By doing that, AIIB demonstrates its openness and inclusiveness with practical actions. The report of Mainichi Shimbun (Japan) believes that AIIB is trying to accumulate enough experiences by co-financing with other multilateral international financial institutions like ADB, and that AIIB will finally become more initiative and independence by expanding its own financing capacities.
AIIB is likely to include over 20 new members with the intention of joining in
Jin Liqun, President of AIIB, said on June 25th that he welcomes the representatives of 24 members that wish to join AIIB. The deadline for the applications of new membership will be September 30th, 2016.
The report of South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) on June 25th says that AIIB is looking to expand its numbers this year and will take applications for new members after the first annual meeting was concluded. There will be new progress of member expansions in early 2017 possible. The report of Deutsch Welle says that the new members are highly likely from Middle East and African, although President Jin Liqun didn’t mention any in specific terms. A report of The Japan Times (Japan) on June 26th says that there will be a total of 81 official members of AIIB with the expansion in early 2017. And that it will replace ADB as the Asian banking organization with the largest membership – now AIIB has 57, and ADB has 67.
The report of BBC on June 26th quotes the opinions of President Jin Liqun on new membership. President Jin confessed that Hong Kong has filed its application. As a member of ADB, Hong Kong is also eligible for the membership to AIIB. “I believe that Hong Kong will soon join AIIB as a full member,” said President Jin. He also mentioned that there is now only 1 member from Latin America (which is Brazil), and he believes that new members are likely to come from there. With the membership of AIIB, the member is likely to apply for the loans of AIIB, and the bank will provide adequate support for the infrastructure constructions of overseas members. It is not only beneficial for the regional development, but also for Asia at large.
Professor Song Guoyou tells Global Times that nearly all Asian countries and regions have already become the full members of AIIB, and most of the new applicants come from outside Asia. It is a demonstration of the global impact of AIIB, and the new applicants are confident in, and are willing to take responsibilities of AIIB.
The former Japanese Prime Minister will serve as a consultant of AIIB?
Former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has also attended the annual meeting. And there is a piece of “breaking news” that he will sit on an “International Advisory Committee”, upon the invitation of President Jin Liqun. The international advisory committee will hold its first meeting this autumn. Committee members will be tasked with advising the AIIB’s President and vice Presidents on a broad range of issues. The panel is expected to be made up of about 10 former heads of state or government, including from non-member nations. The report of Kyodo News Agency (Japan) says that President Jin Liqun had expected a US leader to join the Committee in November of 2015.
The editorial of Asahi Shimbun (Japan) responded to the news that China intends to undercut the ground of Japan, who refused to join AIIB last year under the influence of the US. In the opinion of Professor Song Guoyou, the Japanese government doesn’t fully recognize AIIB, but AIIB will not exclude the consultancies of the Japanese experts despite the disagreement. AIIB will pick the best executives to run the entire organization, and will also pick the most representative consultants for professional advice. By doing so, AIIB will fully demonstrate its openness, professionalism and authority.