China Power

China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank Set For Membership Expansion

The China-led AIIB is ready for its first large membership expansion.

China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank Set For Membership Expansion
Credit: Photo Michael Wuertenberg via World Economic Forum

The 57-country Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is set for its first major expansion since the entry into force of its Articles of Agreement in December 2015.

The Financial Times, based on an interview with AIIB President Jin Liqun, reports that 25 states from Africa, Europe, and South America will sign up to the China-led multilateral development bank.

Interestingly, the FT notes that that China would be potentially willing to forgo its existing “veto” in the AIIB, which it maintains through a 26 percent voting share.

The addition of new members would require China, and potentially other shareholders, to see their voting shares diluted to grant new members a say in the bank’s governance and investment decisions.

Per the AIIB’s Articles of Agreement, several decisions require the support of members holding a three-quarters majority of voting shares between them. Without China’s acquiescence, several AIIB decisions are impossible.

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“Now that China has developed, it is our turn to contribute,” Jin told the FT. “China needs to do something that can help it be recognized as a responsible leader.”

Jin’s remarks here interestingly dovetail with a growing theme in public messaging by Chinese officials (Jin is a former vice minister of finance in China).

Between Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent speech to world elites at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and a new Chinese white paper on Asian security, Beijing has been increasingly more vocal about taking on the mantle of leadership.

That Jin shares this objective in his current capacity as head of the AIIB will stoke some concerns that the multilateral bank is simply another tool of Chinese geoeconomic statecraft (concerns that I’ve previously argued were overblown, especially for the previous U.S. administration).

The full list of 25 countries expected to join the AIIB in its first big expansion since its launch isn’t known, but the FT notes that “Ireland, Canada, Ethiopia and Sudan” are on the list.