Evan Osnos of the New Yorker has this indepth story of Chinese leader Xi Jinping, detailing his humble past, his rise, and his reign as the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao, though not necessarily in a good way. It’s an interesting piece which paints him as a formidable leader with a humble past during which his father experienced political persecution and Xi was sent to a rural village as a teen. Xi has not been shy in exercising his power, carrying out a protracted anti-corruption crackdown whilst also increasing censorship and arrests of activists, among other things. Xi has a lot of big dreams and ambitions, such as creating cross-continental economic initiatives and multilateral institutions in which China will play a leading role.
A lot of attention has been put on China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and its success, even though it has not actually started. This is because China, which proposed the AIIB, a multilateral institution that will fund projects across Asia, was able to attract the likes of the UK, Germany and France to join, despite opposition from the US. The broader implication is that the AIIB will be a sort of rival to the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, existing multilateral institutions that are “led” by the US and Japan. These two countries have notably held back from joining, with Australia, which the US also tried to persuade against participating, that is yet to join.
One of the AIIB’s intended purposes is to fund the “One Belt, One Road” initiative, which comprise land and maritime infrastructure projects across Asia and between China and Europe in an attempt to recreate the ancient Silk Road- vast, intercontinental connected trade networks. It sounds incredibly ambitious, though for China’s leadership, no doubt it will be a success that fuels trade and prosperity across Asia and be a “win-win” situation for everyone involved. There are numerous challenges in getting other countries to be involved and allaying security concerns, as well as that the whole plan sounds very vague and promises big but lacks specifics.
China released an action plan about the entire initiative at the end of March, which you can see here.
There will be a lot of funding involved from China which has promised $40 billion for a Silk Road Fund, and at least $50 billion for the AIIB. In addition, there is the New Development Bank or BRICs bank, which China has also promised over 41$ billion for.
The US may have made an incredible misstep by trying to stop the AIIB, but it is also too soon to call it a success. China’s new initiatives sound impressive and promise big, but I’d rather wait a little longer for more specifics before I’m convinced.