*’아시아엔’ 해외 필진 기고문 한글요약본 및 원문
[아시아엔=칼링가 세네브라트네/스리랑카 프리랜서 기자] 2008년 글로벌금융위기 이후 유럽과 미국이 중국에게 지속적으로 요구해온 사항이 있다. 세계은행(World Bank)과 국제통화기금(IMF, International Monetary Fund) 중심의 브레튼우드 체제(Bretton Wood institutions)에 기여를 해달라는 것이었다. 하지만 중국은 현 경제체제에 개혁을 요구했고, 미국과 유럽은 이를 거절했다.
지난 11월7일, 중국은 베이징에서 열린 아시아태평양경제협력체(APEC) 정상회담에서 흔들리는 세계경제를 지탱하기 위해 500억달러를 들여 아시아인프라투자은행(AIIB)를 설립할 것이라 공표했다. 신흥국들도 중국의 행보를 지지하고 있다. 그동안 중국은 아시아국가들의 AIIB가입을 위해 많은 노력을 기울여왔다. 인도, 미국의 동맹국 싱가포르, 필리핀, 걸프국 카타르, 쿠웨이트까지 가입대열에 합류했다. 지난 11월5일에는 조코 위도도 인도네시아 대통령도 중국과의 MOU체결의사를 밝혔다. 미국과 가까운 호주도 초반에는 미국의 압박을 받았으나, 최근 들어 가입에 호의적인 태도를 보이고 있다.
아시아언론 및 경제분석가들은 새로운 지역은행 출범을 환영하는 눈치다. 반면, 서구언론들은 관리체계의 부재, 부패, 대출과정에서의 무절차 등의 문제를 제기했다. 이들은 AIIB뿐만 아니라, 아시아개발은행(이하 ADB)과 세계은행(World Bank) 등도 비판해왔으며, 실제로 ADB는 시민사회로부터 공적책임 결여, 지배체계 부실, 부패 등을 지탄받았다. ADB와 마찬가지로, AIIB의 가장 큰 장애물은 바로 아시아에 만연한 ‘부패’다. 서방언론들은 갓 출발한 AIIB에 대해 부패 문제를 제기할 준비가 돼있으며, 이는 AIIB의 공신력 하락과 직결될 것이다.
영국 <가디언>은 “세계은행과 국제통화기금에 개혁을 바라는 것은 무리다. 경제대국으로 부상한 중국은 외부에서부터 개혁을 시작했다. AIIB 21개국 가입은 현 체제에 대한 불만을 의미한다”고 언급했다. 또한 “중국이 ‘워싱턴컨센서스’를 배제하는 것이 아니라 보완할 것이다. 후진타오 시대부터 내려온 화평굴기(和平?起, 평화롭게 우뚝 선다) 관점에서 지켜봐야 할 것”이라 논평했다. 번역 최정아 인턴기자
China’s Asian Bank May Herald A New World Order
Since the 2008 economic meltdown, Europeans and the Americans have been asking the Chinese to contribute more to the Bretton Wood institutions. But, in turn, the Chinese have been demanding reforms to the hegemonic system of management and voting rights in these institutions that favour the Americans and the Europeans. Both appeals have mainly landed on deaf ears.
Now the Chinese have decided rather than using their enormous financial reserves to prop up a world economic order that does not give them a say in its governance procedures, they will set up their own institutions. Many of the emerging nations seem to agree with China.
In July this year, the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) announced the formation of the BRICS Development Bank with a reserve fund of $ 100 billion that aims to strengthen the global financial safety net.
At the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Beijing onNov 7, China announced the launch of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) with an initial Chinese investment of $50 billion.
The Chinese have been working on the idea for over a year and lobbied many of the regional government to join in. In spite of heavy US pressure, 20 other Asian and Gulf states signed the MOU on 24th October in Beijing to set up the bank, that will begin to function at the end of 2015.
India, which may have buckled to US pressure a year ago, has enthusiastically embraced the new bank under Mr Narendra Modi’s leadership and hinted at a substantial contribution to its capital. Staunch US allies Singapore, Philippines, Qatar and Kuwait have joined in. Only South Korea and Australia have caved in to US pressure and not signed in, while Japan don’t seem to have been invited.
Just over a week after taking office, Indonesia’s new president Joko Widodo has overturned a decision of his predecessor and told the visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on November 5th that Indonesia will also sign the MOU. Now Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbot says that his country is also keen to join the new regional bank.
The 21 founding members of the AIIB are Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Philippoines, Qatar, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. Indonesia will also join this list.
The purpose of the AIIB will be to provide infrastructure development funds to countries in the Asian region that was earlier dominated by the Japan, Australia and US-dominated Asian Development Bank (ADB).
Estimates have put the infrastructure development needs of the Asian region up to 2020 at $ 8 trillion with Indonesia alone needing $ 230 billion. The existing institutions were not supposed to provide this unless China was willing to invest its huge reserves.
In a commentary published in the Jakarta Post, chairman of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, Simon Tay argued that the AIIB proposal runs against the established regional and global order, in which the Americans dominate the World Bank while the Japanese traditionally head the Asian Development Bank. But he added that times have changed, “some will remember how, back during the Asian crisis of 1997-1998, they (US) persuaded Japan and others not to support calls for an Asian Monetary Fund. However, the reality today is that, given the real needs for infrastructure, a simple No will no longer suffice”.
Dr Ahmad Rashid Malik, senior research fellow at the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad writing in Pakistan’s Nation newspaper described the AIIB as an “Asian dream come true”. He sees this as a major breakthrough in ending Western financial institutions’ hegemony in Asia, which many Asian leaders have fought against for over half a century.
“China wants to build new economic corridors in Asia, such as the Silk Route Belt in Central Asia, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and the China-India-Bangladesh-Myanmar (CIBM) Economic Corridor. These are energy and trade corridors mutually beneficial to these countries,” he points out. “China would provide a leadership role in building these corridors to uplift the infrastructure in Asia, hitherto neglected for centuries”.
Sri Lanka’s International Monetary Cooperation Minister Dr Sarath Ammunugama also agrees that this bank will have a positive impact on the region’s infrastructure development. “This will enable Sri Lanka to obtain loans at a concessionary rate to further boost the expansion and building of infrastructure,” he told the Daily News in Colombo.
While much of the region’s media and economic analysts have welcomed the new bank, most of the Western media have been barking about possible lack of good governance, anti-corruption and human rights procedures in the bank’s lending policies. They tend to argue that the ADB and the World Bank have been criticised for years by civil society groups and even certain government officials for their insensitivity to the plight of the poor, such as in funding water privatization schemes, or for land rights of the poor or even for cronyism in the choice of consultants.
At ADB’s 38th governors’ meeting in Istanbul in 2005, a consortium of civil society groups accused the bank of pushing development policies that exploit the poor and support private sector. “The ADB’s operations in the Asia-Pacific region have been marked by a shocking lack of public accountability, poor governance and massive corruption. Of particular concern, is the ADB’s massive support for fossil fuels, specifically coal-fired power plants, which has contributed significantly to severe climate impacts in Asia, such as more intense droughts and storms” said a statement issued by the group.
Since then the ADB claims that they have put in place a strong anti-corruption and good governance regime. ADB says that its continuing campaign to spread awareness on aid fraud and reporting has been successful in encouraging the public to submit complaints. In 2012, the ADB’s annual aid fraud index tallied a peak in corruption complaints.
It recorded 240 complaints and 114 new investigations against illicit practices, leading to the debarment of 42 firms and 38 individuals. A big chunk of the complaints involved misrepresentations of qualifications, experience and technical capabilities by consulting firms, contractors and individuals gunning for a chance to do business with ADB.
A big challenge for AIIB will be to guard against corruption, especially with a infrastructure building industry that is rife with corrupt practices across the Asian region. The Western media will be ever ready to chew on any hints of corruption within the bank to discredit it.
In an editorial, London’s Guardian newspaper gave some useful advice to its Western media counterparts in judging the latest developments in Asia.
“It is an exaggeration to talk of the pace of reform at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, for there has been almost none to these, the so-called ‘Washington institutions’ … that is why countries that had hardly any economic profile three-quarters of a century ago but are now giants, such as China, are starting to change it from the outside” noted the Guardian.
Thus, it pointed out that the launch of the AIIB to which 21 regional countries have signed up is a product of this frustration. “It will give China the clout in regional financing that membership of the ADB has not allowed it to wield, in spite of being a generous capital provider to it”.
“China is not withdrawing from the Washington institutions, it is supplementing them” it argued. “Unlike certain other aspects of China’s policy, this development is properly seen in the context of the ‘peaceful rise’, which China’s leaders have proclaimed. This is a case for accommodation, not confrontation”.