Asian Investment Bank to open offices outside China

News 13 July, 2022

This is a turning point for the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB, in English): The institution, created in 2016 by China to compete with the World Bank, will open its first offices outside China. «The Board of Directors approved the creation of a temporary operating platform, the first international offices of the bank», – the institution said in a statement on July 7.

These first premises outside of China are presented as a step «in order to gain experience before establishing a long-term international presence of the AIIB», hence the term «temporary». The bank plans to open six more offices.

According to the institution, «rapid growth is a catalyst for the opening of new offices, which will help the bank to be closer to its customers and be at the forefront of its activities». AIIB emphasizes the increase in the number of members from 57 to 105 and 181 ongoing projects in 33 member countries.

But another element comes into play: the zero Covid policy, strictly applied by China for two and a half years and providing for the actual closure of borders. Only 2% of international flights are operated compared to 2019, and travelers must undergo a ten-day quarantine.

Progress: quarantines may last up to a month until the end of June. It is difficult in these conditions to go to inspect projects and meet with partners from the development bank. By comparison, Abu Dhabi allows entry to people with proof of vaccination or a negative test for Covid without isolation.

Like most multinational corporations based in China, the bank is struggling to hire foreign talent, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing internal sources. During 2020, the president of the AIIB, former Vice Minister of Finance of China Jin Lijun demanded that all employees who had withdrawn during the first months of the pandemic return to Beijing. The institution has since changed its policy to allow them to work remotely. Opening offices abroad formalizes this situation.

China is the latest country committed to a zero Covid strategy that is becoming increasingly costly in the face of more contagious options. In the spring, there were sharp restrictions in Shanghai and dozens of other cities. As a result, the country is increasingly isolated in the international arena: its leader has not left it since the beginning of the pandemic.

Due to the lack of information about the country’s opening, the COP-15 on Biodiversity, which was supposed to take place in the fall, will be held in Canada, and the Asian Football Confederation is looking for a replacement for the Asian Cup in June. 2023, after China’s exit.