The Philippines has signed on as the 57th founding member of AIIB, as reported by CNN Philippines. Taruc states that the Philippine infrastructure gap will reach nearly $127.12 billion between the years 2010-2020. Noted as China’s “second-largest trading partner” in 2014, the Philippines anticipate an extension of their infrastructural capabilities and an increased role in “bankable projects.” Taruc lastly adds that the AIIB will host an inaugural meeting of its Board of Governors and Board of Directors in Beijing in mid January.
Parliament ratifies AIIB’s Articles of Agreement
The Nepalese Parliament has ratified AIIB’s Articles of Amendment, making the country an official, founding member of AIIB. Nepal’s Finance Minister, Bishnu Prasad Poudel hopes that the country will benefit in its infrastructure development and productive sectors. The article reports that Nepal will purchase 806 shares in the bank, which amount to nearly $16.2 million. Classified amongst fellow AIIB members as a ‘least developed bank,’ Nepal will pay for shares in installments, over a period of ten years. Government officials caution that Nepal must spend nearly $13-18 billion to finance their infrastructure gap. Some worry that the government’s capacity to absorb capital may hinder infrastructure development.
Recapping 2015, in numbers
Examining several of 2015’s leading stories in geopolitics, Newby regards the AIIB’s formulation as a noteworthy occurrence. Gaining a total of 57 founding members, Newby remarks that the exclusions of ‘established powers within AIIB’, such as the USA and Japan, still possess untold repercussions. In addition to AIIB, Newby’s report included other events, such as the recent downfall in the Chinese stock market, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the White House, and the establishment of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
China’s assertiveness pushes Vietnam toward an old foe... the United States
Denyer reports that relations between Vietnam and China have soured in recent decades, leading Vietnam to increasingly depend on the US. While the Vietnamese economy appears to welcome economic supports from AIIB, Denyer asserts that the country is weary of a hidden agenda in Chinese projects like the Silk Road Initiative. Referring to the development of a high-speed rail across the ancient silk road route, Vietnamese officials claim that the Chinese have forced unfair and costly conditions for railway contracts on Vietnamese soil. For instance, Denyer explains that a Chinese-led rail project currently runs ‘three years behind schedule and 57 percent over budget.’ Due to loan obligations, Vietnamese officials are unable to replace Chinese contractors, or what they allege as ‘outdated technologies’ being installed by Chinese companies. As a result of such complaints, there has been an increase in cooperation between the US and Vietnam. For instance, the US has decreased several arms embargoes on Vietnam, thus allowing Vietnam greater capacities for self-defense against Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea. Additionally, the US included Vietnam within their Trans-Pacific Partnership, which notably, excludes China. Though Vietnam is a member within AIIB, Denyer suggests that Vietnam’s role in the TPP could augment its economic prospects without Chinese aid.
The Year That Was: China Repositioning For Slower But Steady Growth
This article recapitulates several key occurrences in China’s economy throughout 2015. For instance, RTT hypothesizes that due to a weakened demand for exported products, factory overcapacity, and increased debt, the Chinese government altered policies to support domestic consumption. As a result, Chinese stock suffered due to economic and investment slowdowns. However, RTT positively reported that November 2015 brought the inclusion of the Chinese renminbi within the International Monetary Fund’s Special Drawing Rights basket. This allows China greater movement within international financial institutions. Additionally, China announced its official establishment of its AIIB in 2015. The bank is projected to open in early January 2016. RTT concludes the piece by asserting that the Chinese government will also address issues such as pollution, income inequality, and poverty reduction throughout 2016.
Pakistan is China’s only all-weather strategic partner
The articles is based on reports by a daily publication, which asserts that the relationship between Pakistan and China “has expanded from political and security fields to economy and trade, climate change, food and energy security.” The article claims that relations between the two countries on not based on ideology, but rather, similar visions of security and strategic interests. Greater Kashmir suggests that Pakistan and China possess mutual stakes in one another, such that membership in entities such as AIIB, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, or The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, will solidify bilateral activities.
Hectic Year of trips brought acclaim and growing influence to country
In efforts to broadcast its Silk Road Initiative and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the article states that China has increased its international relationships throughout 2015. Emphasizing China’s emerging role as a leader in the global economy, the article cites Western members in the AIIB as evidence of growing clout for Chinese institutions. Further evinced by the Chinese renminbi’s inclusion as an International Monetary Fund special reserve currency, China appears to have solidified relations with Western nations.
Senior MP wants Iceland to quit AIIB
The article reports that Frosti Sigurjónsson, Member of Parliament for the governing Progressive Party and Chair of the Parliamentary Committee for Economic Affairs and Trade, disfavors Icelandic membership in the China-led AIIB. Believing that the Iceland’s financial contributions to the bank could be better spent on national issues. Sigurjónsson further asserts that participation in AIIB gives the bank and its employees immunities from surveillance and taxation. The article states that such immunities would require special provisions granted by the Icelandic parliament. While other officials think that membership will enhance Iceland’s relations with Asian nations, Sigurjónsson retorts that Icelandic representation in the bank’s shares occupy a minuscule percentage, such that the country’s influence on AIIB policies are limited.
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang's Regular Press Conference on December 31, 2015
Foreign Minister of China, Lu Kang, issued several statements in a press conference summarizing the nation’s diplomatic achievements throughout 2015. Regarding the Asian Infrastructure Investment and BRICS banks, Lu Kang stated that both institutions aim to construct “a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation.” The People’s Republic of China intends to play an active part on major world issues such as climate change, security, diplomacy, and others through methods of ‘international cooperation.’ Lu Kang cites other 2015 projects, such as the China-UN Peace and Development Fund, Belt and Road Initiative, and the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area as hallmarks of 2015’s diplomacy.
The ongoing geo-political changes of 2015
The article summarizes some of the major changes that affected diplomacy throughout 2015. Xinyu remarks that the rise of the Islamic State, or IS, has made western powers more dependent on Beijing. Pushing the US to remain active throughout the Middle East and distracting from efforts in the Asia Pacific, Xinyu asserts that global leaders throughout the US, Europe, and Russia have relied upon China for additional supports. Regarding China, Xinyu affirms that the international economic system has also made remarkable changes in 2015. Citing developments such as China’s AIIB, the multilateral BRICS bank, the IMF’s introduction of the Renminbi in the reserve currency basket, and the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership, Xinyu insinuates that global economic entities have increasingly integrated emerging markets and investors.
‘Hot peace’ to take hold in East Asia
The Herald regards 2015 as a year of regional conflict throughout the Asia Pacific. Citing territorial disputes in the South China Sea, the continuation of Silk Road economic policy, and the creation of its AIIB, Song Sang-ho regards China as a having instigated regional tensions through 2015. The author projects that China will continue developing these initiatives throughout 2016, but with efforts targeted towards economic revitalization in order to reverse economic downfalls of 2015. Additionally, the author foreshadows increasing relations between the US and China due to continued terrorism throughout the Middle East. At the same time, Song Sang-ho notes that such global tensions may push the US to engage its other Asian allies, such as Japan and South Korea, to jointly eliminate security threats such as terrorism.
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