UK joins Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to serve its own interests, not support China

Illustration: Chia Cheng/Global Times

Danny Alexander, former First Secretary of the UK Treasury and Vice President for Policy and Strategy at the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), sparked a new wave of criticism of the UK’s membership of multilateral lenders when he spoke about it. How the bank paved the way for “Europe-China cooperation, investing in construction projects around the world”, and conveying a “message of hope”.

The British Telegraph was quick to jump on the news, claiming in an article on Sunday that “UK support for China’s global ambitions is a cause for concern”. The article described the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank as a “Chinese competitor to the World Bank” and claimed that Britain’s support for the bank “faced renewed criticism as it faced accusations of Chinese colonialism”.

Those are pretty harsh words about a multilateral bank that focuses on infrastructure projects in developing countries. But such accusations are at best sensational at best and at worst a disgraceful attempt to undermine global cooperation. China has proposed the creation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, but the bank has more than 100 members, including the UK, Germany and Canada. No honest person would see the AIIB as a purely Chinese project to pursue “global ambitions” unless blinded by ideology.

Against the backdrop of the rapid growth of developing countries, China has proposed the establishment of a multilateral bank with a strong focus on financing infrastructure projects across Asia, closing the major infrastructure financing gap in the region. The idea has the support of many countries, including the UK, because it is a very big opportunity. For the UK, which has a financially based economy, joining the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank would help traditional financial powers to maintain their lead, especially in the post-Brexit era.

The US has also sparked criticism of Britain’s membership of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Washington made no secret of its displeasure in choosing London from the start, with US officials claiming they were “concerned about the continued trend of adjustment to China, which is not the best way to harness emerging power.” Financial Times. .

It is safe to say that the UK did not choose to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to “accommodate” China or support China’s “ambitions”; On the contrary, I clearly recognize that this is a great opportunity to participate in an important phase of economic development for developing Asian countries, which will provide a major impetus for future economic growth in this century.

London seized the opportunity in March 2015 and applied to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank before it officially opened in 2016. Along with the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Austria, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, all were founding members of the Bank.

Despite their strong focus on Asia, multilateral banks do not limit their development within the continent. As of October 2021, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has approved 147 projects with a cumulative investment of over $28.97 billion, benefiting 31 regional and non-regional members. It also lists 104 accredited members, 11 of whom are from Africa.

The Bank continues to open its doors to developed and developing countries around the world. Any voice from the West questioning membership or any project funded by the Bank will not hinder the Bank’s mission or momentum.

As China acts as the main engine of global economic growth and tilts the center of the international economy towards Asia, it is expected and natural that changes in the global financial system, previously dominated by the United States, will become more equitable and more beneficial for the economy. to make a country. . developing economy.

Instead of fearing losing long-term dominance or worrying about weakening confidence, Western countries like the UK should increase their participation in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and other multilateral efforts aimed at increasing the stimulation of developing countries, otherwise they will all be excluded. together.

The author is an editor at Global Times. [email protected]

Rockie Steve

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