CHINESE academics are urging the Philippines to fast-track its membership in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), saying the China-led multilateral lender can help achieve Manila’s vision of a “golden age of infrastructure.”
Zhang Zhenjiang, a Chinese international relations professor, said the AIIB could support the ambitious plan, “but that depends on how the Philippines will talk with the AIIB.”
The Duterte administration unveiled last month a list of big-ticket infrastructure projects worth P8.2 trillion, which Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said would become a “golden age of infrastructure.”
The Senate is expected to ratify next week the AIIB agreement to formalize Manila’s entry to the institution.
Senator Loren Legarda, who led the hearing of the Senate Sub-Committee on Foreign Relations on the AIIB treaty, earlier this week sponsored the committee report on Senate Resolution 241 that contained the AIIB Articles of Agreement.
The Philippines only has until the yearend to secure Senate approval, otherwise it will lose membership in the AIIB.
Once the agreement is ratified, the Philippines needs to contribute $196 million, payable in five years, to the institution’s $100-billion capital stock. The P4 billion initial contribution of the Philippines to the AIIB has been included in the proposed 2017 budget.
“Your new government, they have the plan for infrastructure and this is the common logic with the Chinese government. I think that we can do a lot of things jointly. And the Chinese government [acknowledges]that infrastructure investments are so important for development,” said Zhang, the executive dean of the School of International Studies and the Academy of Overseas Chinese Studies, and director of the Center for Transnational Migration Studies in Jinan University.
The Chinese scholar lauded the Philippines for its interest to become one of the founding members of AIIB.
“At least, from our experience from President Duterte, [he]is doing the right thing. He has good plans for economic development,” Zhang said.