2,500 delegates will gather today on the South Korean island of Jeju for the annual summit of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The meeting is expected to focus on the Bank’s core mission: promoting economic development, reducing poverty and increasing infrastructure investment throughout the Asian continent.
Counting economic powerhouses such as Germany, the UK and India among its 52 member states, the Chinese-led institution has the potential to shape regional development. But two of the world’s largest economies are notably missing; despite invitations, the US and Japan have chosen not to join the Bank. These two countries—arguably China’s greatest rivals—perceive the new institution as a vehicle for Beijing’s influence to develop competing economic regimes and gain leverage over Southeast Asian states.
With the Trump administration vocally rejecting international liberal institutions, there are concerns that China could use the bank to create and strengthen trade and transportation ties throughout Asia that would exclude the US.