Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) President Jin Liqun stressed the importance of multilateralism to global development in an exclusive interview with CGTN in Davos on Tuesday, echoing the message of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s keynote address to the World Economic Forum (WEF).
President Xi attracted global attention on Tuesday, using the first speech to the WEF by a Chinese president to urge the world to reject protectionism and work together to forge a form of economic globalization that works for everyone.
Jin emphasized how Xi’s focus on cooperation and a new form of globalization - through finding new growth drivers, improving global governance and equal development - matched the aspirations of the development bank.
A screen grab of CGTN’s Tian Wei interviewing Jin Liqun, President of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in Davos, Switzerland on January 17, 2017. /CGTN Photo
“Xi’s speech is very inspiring,” Jin told CGTN’s Tian Wei. “What is important for the bank is that he highlighted multilateralism, and the importance of shared responsibility.”
“So we need to promote sustained growth and economic social progress through infrastructure investment and connectivity. That is very important for enhanced globalization, which will bring shared benefits to all of the countries participating and to all people.”
The AIIB was conceptualized by leaders in China against the background of rising sentiment against globalization, connectivity and regional global cooperation, said Jin. He added that the bank is set to create opportunities for all the participating countries and their people to benefit from.
“That is why we think multilateralism is important, and all the shareholders should work together to make sure that Asia would have sustained growth which is positive to other regions including Europe.”
A screen grab of Jin Liqun, President of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), talking to CGTN's Tian Wei in Davos, Switzerland on January 17, 2017. /CGTN Photo
It has been one year since the establishment of AIIB, the first multilateral financial institution to be set up in the 21st century, and the head of the bank praised the achievement it gained while admitted that challenges still remain.
“Tough challenges remain to be tackled, but with the concerted efforts of all the staff and under the guidance of the board, we have set up the system,” said Jin.
“We have recruited professionals from across the world and these people have worked hard to prepare a lending program approved by the board worth 1.73 billion US dollars, nine projects covering seven countries,” he added.
The loans AIIB approved in 2016 spanned areas including the energy, urban development and transport sectors in Pakistan, Oman, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Tajikistan, Myanmar and Azerbaijan.
The AIIB has also reached partnerships with key global institutions, including the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Three of the AIIB’s first loans were co-financed with the bank’s partners. Without cooperation, it would be impossible for the bank to achieve its targeted lending, Jin emphasized.
A woman wearing a face mask walks past a logo displayed at the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) headquarters building in Beijing, China, on January 5 2017. /CFP Photo
Asked whether the AIIB would be willing to support the US, Jin replied that the bank only invests in member countries. US President-elect Donald Trump has called for more investments in US infrastructure, however, and Ding Xuedong, chairman of China's sovereign wealth fund, China Investment Corporation, expressed interest in helping Trump revamp US infrastructure in an interview with US television network CNBC on Monday.
"Trump calls for expansionary fiscal policy and more investments in US infrastructure. The upgrades and the expansion mean massive investment,” said Ding. “The US government doesn't have the money, private investors in the US don't have the money and this is where the foreign investors come in," Ding told CNBC in translated comments.
"We hope the US will not have any double standards or bias, but have a level playing field for foreign investors, including China. If so, I see lots of opportunities in the US.”
Before the AIIB opened in January in 2016, the Obama administration rejected joining. But Jin remains optimistic and says the door is open to the US.
"The door will remain that way," Jin said in a recent Bloomberg Television interview. "We maintain a consistent policy. The AIIB is a multilateral development institution… We can work very well together."