- The Washington Times - Friday, July 12, 2019

A Beijing-based infrastructure funding bank strongly backed by the Chinese government is holding its annual meeting Friday in Luxembourg, the first time the event has been held in Europe and a sign the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) may be looking beyond Asia for investment opportunities.

The Obama and Trump administrations declined to sign on as a member of the bank, but major allies — including Britain, Germany, Saudia Arabia, Israel and India — are among the 97 countries that participate in the three-year-old infrastructure lending institution.

Chinese President Xi Jinping first floated the idea of the bank as a way to finance trillions of dollars in infrastructure projects among Asia’s fast-growing economies, but the choice of Luxembourg — the first European country to sign on in 2015 — suggests bank officials are looking farther afield.

The state-linked China Daily newspaper reported Friday that Europe could be a target for financing projects because many European countries have signed on to China’s massive “Belt and Road Initiative, which is building ports, roads and rail lines in countries across Asia and Africa.

The AIIB has not announced any projects in Europe, but “we can and it could make sense for use, especially [for the projects] connecting with Asia,” bank Vice President Joachim Amsbergtold the newspaper.



China’s investment ambitions in Europe have proven divisive for the European Union. Despite concerns about transparency from EU officials in Brussels, Italy in March became the first major power inside the bloc to formally join the Belt and Road program, in a signing ceremony attended by Mr. Xi himself.

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