AIIB's five-year success story
The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is marking its fifth anniversary. Facts speak louder than words, and by all accounts, the Beijing-based multilateral development bank has been doing quite well.
The AIIB's mission is financing infrastructure with sustainability at its core. Since beginning operations in January 2016, its membership has grown from 57 to 103. The cumulative approved investments grew from $1.69 billion at the end of 2016 to $22.02 billion at the end of 2020, and the number of total approved projects from eight to 108.
None of this is small change, especially given the immense challenges to economic globalization and international cooperation over the past few years.
The AIIB has secured Triple-A ratings from the major international credit rating agencies and is now capitalized at $100 billion, a de facto recognition of its strength, health and governance by the international market.
As for the total amount of approved investments over the past five years, East Asia got only $1.24 billion, trailing South Asia's $8.71 billion, Southeast Asia's $3.53 billion, West Asia's $3.48 billion, and Central Asia's $1.87 billion. Any previous concerns that China would use the bank to direct money to itself should be cleared up by these numbers.
The tensions between the United States and China, as a result of the US administration's hawkish policies, did little to change the open-mindedness and international outreach of the AIIB.
The AIIB has been working closely with US financial institutions such as the Bank of New York Mellon and Goldman Sachs. Although the US and Japan are not members of the AIIB, there is no shortage of employees from the two countries in the AIIB. The bank's employment principle is "based on merit, regardless of nationality", Jin Liqun, president of the AIIB, said, adding that the door of the AIIB is always open to countries that acknowledge and follow its charter.
A key to the AIIB's success is upholding the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. China first floated the idea of establishing the AIIB and remains the biggest shareholder, but it has resolutely supported its operation as a multilateral development bank, ensuring it maintains its international character, high standards and high quality. In fact, the sound growth of the AIIB itself contributes to the credibility of China internationally.
On Wednesday, it identified five emerging infrastructure trends, including green, social and technology-enabled infrastructure."Post-crisis recovery programs should not be carbon-dependent, which presents policymakers with an opportunity to align public policies more closely with climate objectives," the bank said.
That's the latest evidence of its strategically thoughtful and trend-savvy look into the future.