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China's New Superbank: A Second Wave of Economic Asianization (AIIB)

Facing new economic realities, many Western countries have signed up for China's Asian Investment Bank and are propelling the East's rise as a new dominant economic power.

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This article originally appeared at Want China Times

The popularity of China-proposed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has signaled that Asia in general and China in particular are leading the world into another and relevant direction, a Dutch expert has said.

<figcaption>Many countries have chosen to cooperate</figcaption>
Many countries have chosen to cooperate

Rien T Segers, a Dutch expert on the political economy of East Asia, believes the world is undergoing a transition from "the financial, economic and political dominance of the United States towards the dominance of a number of Asian countries, led by China."

"If dominance is a politically incorrect word, leadership is not nice either. I would prefer 'cooperative influence'", said Segers, who is an Asian business strategist at the International Business School of Hanze University of Applied Science in Groningen, located in the north of the Netherlands.

"The rich and old economies have no other choices but going for a development which is a reflection of cooperative influence of Asian countries in the West and vice versa", he added.

Segers believed a second wave of "Asianization" is now coming and it is much more comprehensive and deeper than the first wave, which was led by Japan in the 1970s and 1980s, because of its large scale.

During the first wave of "Asianization," Japan had about 120 million inhabitants. "The second wave will be more influential, because of the potential economic power of China and other Asian economies, such as the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Japan", Segers said.

The fact that a dozen European countries are joining in the AIIB will have a "tremendous influence" on the second wave of "Asianization," according to the professor.

More than 40 countries have so far shown interest to become members of the AIIB. Among them, European countries, including the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands, have all stated that they want to become the founding members of the new bank.

China's Rise

Segers has kept a close watch on China's rise and visited China several times.

"Based on my reading of Chinese newspapers and my visits there, I have the impression that the feeling of leadership is less visible in China," he said.

"It is not a matter that the Chinese would like to dominate the world from a political or economic perspective, but that they would like to be recognized as a country of creativity, innovation and a nation of 'peaceful rise'," he said.

Segers believes "there is no way to stop a potential power from exerting economic influence."

"So the reasoning is how we in the West can profit from China, rather than how we can keep China out of our country and out of international institutions," he said.

Citing the International Monetary Fund as an example, the professor said the changes are "too slow and marginal" in such international financial organizations despite calls to change its voting power according to the world's new economic reality.

In the IMF, China has 3.8% of the voting power, the Netherlands has 2% and the US 16.8%.

On the interest in the China-proposed AIIB declared by US allies from Europe, the professor said it shows many politicians and business people in Europe seem to have lost their anxiety about China and want to cooperate.

Segers said the fundamental question now for the AIIB is how to make it a successful, effective and inclusive international financial institution.

"The success of the AIIB will depend on its regulations, its transparency, a sustainable voting power of all member nations concerned, and a fair and equal division of the financial means towards infrastructure projects in regions that need those projects most", he said.

The Netherlands has already applied to join the AIIB as a founding member before March 31, the deadline of application.

If the Netherlands succeeds in joining the AIIB, it could help shape the AIIB's mandate, governance model and policies, according to the professor.

The AIIB, which will support infrastructure projects in Asia, is expected to be established by the end of this year. The final number of founding members will be confirmed on April 15.

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