Taipei races against time to get into Beijing’s "Super Bank"
Taipei (AsiaNews) - In a surprise move last minute move, the Taiwanese government has decided to submit an application to be a member state of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the "Super Bank" launched by Beijing to counter the Western presence in Asian finance. The decision was announced by the president yesterday evening March 30: Today, March 31, is the deadline for the submission of applications.
Charles Chen I-hsin, spokesman for President Ma Ying-jeou, explains: " The finance ministry will prepare the necessary documents, which will be reviewed and approved by the cabinet before they are sent to the mainland via our existing communication channel with the [State Council's] Taiwan Affairs Office [in Beijing]. Joining the AIIB will aid Taiwan's push for regional economic integration "and increase the odds of the island taking part in international affairs and international economic and trade organisations "
Since 1949, Taipei and Beijing have been embroiled in a diplomatic dispute. The island claims to be the seat of the legitimate government of all of China, while Beijing calls it a rebel province that must be brought back to the motherland. After years of military tensions, the situation cooled off in 2008 with the election in Taiwan of the nationalist Ma Ying-jeou who has pursued a policy of "pragmatic reconciliation" with Beijing and has opened several channels of commercial trade .
Doubts remain over whether the island can become a founding member of the AIIB given that the bank’s members must be recognized states. So far the Chinese central government has not commented, but the fact that Taipei announced its intention to take part suggests that the two nations have discussed the question beforehand.
Launched by Beijing in May of 2014, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) aims to become the financial hub par excellence for the continent’s governments. In this way, say analysts, they want to extricate themselves from the dominance of the World Bank, traditionally in the hands of the US; the Asian Development Bank, based in Manila but controlled by Japan; the International Monetary Fund controlled by Europe.
In concrete terms, the Chinese government offers loans to Asian governments at "zero interest" without imposing what are the standard fees for international negotiations: no internal pressure, no request for political reform or long-term guarantees. Beijing is also lobbying for support in the international arena – such as the United Nations, ASEAN or the Criminal Court in The Hague - with regard to its own domestic issues: Tibet, Xinjiang and Taiwan. In addition, it wants a favorable vote in all disputes concerning disputed waters and territories, such as those of the China Sea (Eastern and Southern) and on the border with India.
According to the Chinese Ministry of Finance, so far more than 40 states have applied to be members of the new supranational structure. These also include Egypt, the first nation in Africa to apply.