The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and Multilateralism in the 21st Century

On April 14, 2017 the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security hosted a conversation with the honorable Jin Liqun, president of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The discussion focused on his vision for the development of the AIIB, its approach to providing financing for Asian infrastructure, and the AIIB’s internal governance process, as well as his thinking on multilateralism in the Asian-Pacific region. The AIIB celebrated its first year of operations in January and to date has invested over $2 billion in twelve projects across Asia.

Following a warm welcome and introductory remarks by Fred Kempe, president and CEO of the Atlantic Council, President Jin proceeded to outline ongoing improvements and future expansions to the AIIB. He introduced AIIB’s current objective to bridge relations between Asia and the United States and followed with the slogan, “our bank is lean, clean, and green” and emphasized the importance of operating the AIIB according to the highest international standard. President Jin stated that over the span of two years AIIB has dramatically grown, bringing together 52 member states, with another 18 prospective candidates. It is in the forefront of the promotion of infrastructure projects in the Asia-Pacific region and developing countries.

President Jin also discussed the skepticism of China’s development projects and the creation of a new global bank. Concerns of disruption within the global financial system and Chinese influence in the economic market has caused international doubt, especially from the European community. He stressed the importance of establishing a bank that will work with partners all around the world and create a bridge to joint productivity. AIIB follows the belief that the promotion of social development can only result from the investment in infrastructure projects.

President Jin further noted that China has been keen to work together with the United States. Henceforth, it is vital for the AIIB to earn credibility and gain a dynamic and innovative reputation among the international community. One year, President Jin argued, is too short to judge an institution on its performance. The main focus for AIIB today is to advocate for a universal recruitment strategy as well as a competitive and fair bidding process. President Jin is proud to announce that AIIB is not there to only maximize profits, but to also work for the benefit of developing countries.

President Jin also stated AIIB’s main 2017 targets: finding suitable partners and sponsors to execute projects, taking on projects with potential risks while preserving high quality, and pushing for a green economy through the utilization of smart power. President Jin further emphasized AIIB’s global outreach and connectivity, extending projects into different parts of the world. Cooperation between private sector investors and government institutions is key to the pursuit of fruitful development projects and the mobilization of resources.