The president of the Japan-dominated Asian Development Bank has welcomed a proposal by China to set up a rival $50bn infrastructure fund, but warned that the new institution should not disregard environmental and other safeguards.
At the ADB’s annual meeting, in Astana, Kazakhstan, this month, Beijing began to flesh out plans for an Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to promote closer regional ties.
Beijing said the new bank, which is strongly backed by Xi Jinping, China’s president, would be less bureaucratic than the ADB and more focused on physical infrastructure than on poverty reduction. In Astana, China discussed its plans with 15 Asian countries but did not talk to either Japan or the US, the ADB’s two leading shareholders, nor India.
Some observers see Beijing’s proposal for an infrastructure fund as an attempt to outflank Tokyo in the field of regional institutions by challenging the ADB’s hegemony.
Takehiko Nakao, the latest in a long line of Japanese ADB presidents, said there was room for a new institution given the region’s huge infrastructure shortfall. “It is understandable to think this way because of the very large financing needs for Asian countries and the wish of China to play a larger role in the region,” he said.
But Mr Nakao highlighted what he called the ADB’s “constructive role” in building safeguards into its projects, for example by including rules governing the resettlement of people. “The new international bank should also respect these standards,” he said. China has sometimes been criticised for ignoring safeguards in the name of non-interference in the affairs of other countries.
Mr Nakao said he was open to the idea of Beijing playing a bigger role in the ADB, which was founded in 1966 when China was poor and isolated.
“I don’t want to say Japan’s dominance of the ADB will continue forever,” he said. “China is a growing country and its contribution in terms of capital is still limited.”
在本月于哈萨克斯坦阿斯坦纳举行的亚行年会上，中国政府开始阐述成立亚洲基础设施投资银行(Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank)、促进更紧密区域联系的具体计划。