Upstart challenger to World Bank, IMF holds first election . . .
Last week, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) launched the process for nominating candidates for its presidential election. The election is a key test to see if the Beijing-backed bank, of which Canada is a member, will continue under the leadership of China’s nominee and current president, Jin Liqun. It will be the AIIB’s first full election since its founding in 2016. Since then, the AIIB has expanded from 57 to 80 members, with 22 prospective members set to ratify as early as next month. To date, the bank has approved 71 projects with a total commitment of C$20 billion.
The path to victory runs through China . . .
To win the presidency, a candidate must win votes from two-thirds of the AIIB’s Governors, one per member country. Those Governors voting yes must also represent at least 75 per cent of the total voting power in the Bank’s general decision-making votes, which is unevenly distributed across members. This means that the winner will need to have China’s support, given its 27 per cent total voting share. However, China does not directly have the voting power to ensure its own candidate wins. A win for China-backed Jin would not be surprising – other multilateral development banks have processes that are open in theory, but in practice select their next leaders from a pre-determined member state – but another nominee’s win could offer Beijing a chance to present the AIIB as an inclusive, alternative institution.
Winner will face daunting economic headwinds . . .
Due to COVID-19, the AIIB’s July annual meeting – and the election of the president – will be held virtually, but could lead to historic implications as the bank is working on its corporate strategy, its COVID-19 response, and its agenda through the 2020s. The newly-elected president, whose five-year term starts in 2021, will have decision making power that could influence capacities of health-care systems across the Asia Pacific, as well as the region’s broader recovery from the pandemic and its economic impacts. The election’s process and outcome will also invariably lead to political reactions at a time when China’s role in multilateral systems is facing heightened scrutiny, and at a time when domestic calls in Canada to leave the AIIB have increased.
- Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank: Rules for the election of the president of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank
- Caixin Global: AIIB President seeks reelection
- Xinhua: China nominates Jin Liqun for second term as AIIB president