Xinhua writer Jiang Li
BEIJING, July 16 (Xinhua) -- The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has expanded its membership to 100 with the approval of the African newcomers of Benin, Djibouti and Rwanda at the fourth annual meeting of the bank's board of governors held in Luxembourg over the weekend.
The fact that the AIIB has almost doubled its membership in just three years is a vote of confidence of the international community for the multilateral financing body's efforts to boost sustainable development worldwide.
Asia now faces an estimated 8-trillion-U.S. dollar investment gap for infrastructure, according to the Asian Development Bank. The AIIB is designed to help fill that huge funding gap for developing countries worldwide.
Since the start of its operation in January 2016, the China-initiated global lending body, with a focus on empowering sustainable infrastructure development and boosting cross-border connectivity in Asia and beyond, has approved 46 projects worth 8.5 billion dollars in 18 members, like improving urban infrastructure and services in slums of Indonesia, and upgrading power system in Bangladesh.
As the bank is striving to deliver its promise, it is also working hard to live up to its commitment to the highest standards of governance, enhanced transparency and accountability. When assessing investment goals, the bank has, as always, taken three factors into consideration: financial viability, ecological sustainability and the projects' potential to improve living standards.
To make sure that the loans go to where they should be, the institution has been devoted to supervising the use of funds and offering assistance to curb corruption. It has also been trying to reach the high bar of boosting development while protecting the environment at the same time.
As a result, Standard & Poor's, Moody's and Fitch, all three of the world's leading rating agencies, have rewarded the AIIB with triple-A ratings for two consecutive years in 2017 and 2018.
In the eyes of many Western critics, the AIIB was born a rival for the post-war West-led global financial arrangement, whose pillar bodies such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are still playing a key role in providing loans and kick-starting development around the world.
The AIIB intends not to overturn or replace the current rules-based international financial governing system, but to render it more effective and resourceful, and integrate itself as part of the global system.
While the IMF and the World Bank have voiced their support for the bank and want to join its efforts, the AIIB has also been trying to accomplish its goals through close cooperation with other banking institutions and private sectors, like the Asian Development Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
As the world is trying to cope with the rising waves of protectionism and economic populism, the AIIB seeks to help promote global cooperation, preserve multilateralism, and push forward the necessary reforms in the global economic governance system so that it can play its role in fostering inclusive development in a new era of economic globalization.
While addressing the annual meeting, Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg said "international finance institutions such as AIIB are key, especially during times of climate change and when human lives are under threat around the world."
Now that the AIIB has reached a new stage of its development, it is expected that, by joining hands with more countries and institutions worldwide, it will play an even bigger role in bolstering shared development for all.