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Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, AIIB, China, Infrastructure, Investment, Power Transitions
China’s rise has generated a sense of instability in the international system. Power Transition Theory warns that this period of change at the top of the international hierarchy will be a moment of great danger, as China will likely be dissatisfied with the world order that the United States has created. This view coincides with pessimistic realist projections. Neoliberal institutionalism is more optimistic about the prospects for a peaceful transition, believing that China will not necessarily be a dissatisfied power as the international system and its institutions encourage cooperation and a focus on absolute gains, mitigating the likelihood of conflict. China’s creation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has frequently been cited as evidence for the pessimistic projections, viewed as a signal that China is a revisionist power, intent on disrupting the international system. This paper utilizes an interest-based approach to examine the AIIB in order to discern whether China is deserving of the label of dissatisfied rising power. First, the debate surrounding the AIIB is situated by offering an overview of China’s position in global governance and the international political economy. The bank itself is then analyzed, both by examining the intentions that stand behind the creation of the bank, as well as the bank itself. Through this analysis, it is determined that in creating the AIIB, China was not acting as a dissatisfied—or revisionist—power, as, in this area, it finds its interests served by the current international system. This finding adheres to the expectations of the neoliberal institutionalist theory. While continued work must be conducted as part of a larger project to examine how the various dimensions of China’s rise fit together and will interact with one another to affect China’s grand strategy going forward, these findings lend support to the optimistic projections for a peaceful power transition.
Date Posted: 04 May 2017