Date
19 November 2017
Hong Kong is keen on joining a new Chinese-backed Asian infrastructure bank, but some lawmakers are said to be questioning the merits of the proposal. Photo: Bloomberg
Hong Kong is keen on joining a new Chinese-backed Asian infrastructure bank, but some lawmakers are said to be questioning the merits of the proposal. Photo: Bloomberg

Lawmakers divided over reported govt bid to join China-led AIIB

With Britain, Germany, France and several other Western powers expressing interest in joining the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Hong Kong is also eager to follow suit, Ming Pao Daily reported Wednesday.

However, some lawmakers are voicing reservations as they say that membership of the new bank could mean a contribution of more than HK$10 billion from local government coffers, the report said.

The funding will need approval from Legco’s Finance Committee before a budgetary provision can be made.

Leung Kwok-hung, a founding member of the League of Social Democrats, said he is against any funding for the AIIB as he feels the new bank may not make the right investments.

Depending on what decision that Legco panel ultimately makes, he could launch a protest, he said.

Legislator Gary Fan Kwok-wai said he will see what functions AIIB will have and how much Hong Kong will need to inject before he makes a decision on whether to support the bid.

Former leader Donald Tsang Yam-kuen had once led Hong Kong businesses into participating in a China northwest region development project, but the initiative failed to yield much benefit, Fan said, calling for discretion with regard to any new plan.

Leung Kai-cheong, a legislator from the accounting constituency, however offered a different perspective as he said that it will be good for Hong Kong if it becomes one of AIIB’s founding members.

Hong Kong should even try to get the new bank to locate a headquarters facility in the city, he said, urging fellow lawmakers not to oppose the AIIB plan.

Ming Pao cited some sources as saying that the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority have been involved in discussions with Beijing on the possibility of having Hong Kong join AIIB as a founding member.

The Hong Kong government also suggested that the AIIB be based in the city, but the central government preferred Beijing, a source was quoted as saying.

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TL/AC/RC

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