U.S. could join China’s ‘Belt and Road’ initiative

November 16, 2016 12:00 am | Updated December 02, 2016 03:41 pm IST - BEIJIING:

The head of China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Jin Liqun, has signalled that the United States under President-elect Donald Trump could reverse its decision not to join the lender — a move that could pave the way for Washington’s broader acceptance of Beijing’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) connectivity initiative across the Eurasian region.

The AIIB is widely viewed as part of a new global financial architecture, and is expected to back infrastructure projects in Asia that are part of OBOR.

U.S. could join AIIB

In an interview with the official People’s Daily , Mr. Jin said: “I have heard a certain senior official of the President Barack Obama speak good of the AIIB and after Donald Trump won, I was told that many in his team have an opinion that Obama was not right not to join the AIIB, specially after Canada joined, which was a very loud endorsement of the bank. So we can’t rule out the new government in U.S. endorsing the AIIB or indicating interest to join as member.” A separate article in the same publication quoted individuals — supposedly part of the Trump camp — as telling that the U.S. embrace of OBOR under the newly elected President could be on the cards, in case Beijing agreed not to the alter the status quo in the Asia-Pacific. The daily pointed to a November 10 article by former CIA director James Woolsey, who is part of Mr. Trump’s inner-circle, titled, “Under Donald Trump, the U.S. will accept China’s rise — as long as it doesn’t challenge the status quo .”

China’s leadership role

According to the People’s Daily , “Woolsey recognised China’s leadership role, but also said that the balance of power in Asia depends on America’s strength”.

It added: “He [Mr. Woolsey] called U.S. opposition to the formation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank ‘a strategic mistake,’ and said that the new administration should warm up to the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative. He expressed hope for a new agreement between the two sides.”

The daily also carried an article by Nicholas Rosellini, the China head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), extolling the OBOR’s potential to positively change the international landscape.

Mr. Rosellini highlighted that the “ambitious ‘Belt and Road’ Initiative, potentially the world’s largest economic corridor, is part of a new trend and an innovative contribution to global governance. It represents an opportunity to build a shared vision for common prosperity through regional cooperation, and could act as an accelerator for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

Mr. Rosellini also said that the Chinese initiative “aims to foster trade, financial integration, and people-to-people bonds, while promoting inclusiveness and win-win cooperation — hence reshaping the landscape of international cooperation.”

An embrace of the China-led AIIB could be on the cards under a Trump administration

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