India Biggest Borrower From China-Based Bank For COVID-19 Relief Fund

India has emerged as the top borrower from the Beijing based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) bank with a whopping $4.5 billion in loans and a billion more for its regional development projects.

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The AIIB was set up in 2016, with the aim to support the infrastructure projects in the Asia Pacific region. Out of the 102 members of the bank, India holds 7.6% of the total voting power but has become the top beneficiary of COVID-19-related relief fund.

India is the largest borrower holding 25 per cent of the total loans approved by AIIB. It had recently set up the COVID-19 relief fund for its member nations which the Chinese President Xi Jinping described as an example of the Multilateral Development Bank’s (MDB) “power of action” at the fifth annual meeting.

India remains the top virus relief fund borrowers as of now with $500 million and $750 million in its lending history, followed by $750 million each for Indonesia and the Philippines, $500 million for Pakistan and $250 million for Bangladesh.

“It has got off to a good start. From the 57 founding members to today’s membership of 102 spanning the six continents of Asia, Europe, Africa, North America, South America and Oceania, the AIIB has grown from strength to strength and provided nearly US$20 billion in infrastructure investment to its members,” Xi Jinping – The President of China said at the online meeting.

AIIB has established itself in the world as a new type of professional, efficient and clean multilateral development bank. “The initiative is designed to develop infrastructure and connectivity in Asia and deepen regional cooperation for shared development,” Xi said.

Indian Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, appreciated AIIB for fast-tracking assistance of 10 billion dollars to its member countries including India to combat the COVID-19 crisis. She further explained measures taken to boost infrastructure development including the National Infrastructure Pipeline 2020-2025.

“India has launched the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) 2020-2025 with an estimated expenditure of USD 1.4 trillion that has created a plethora of fresh investment opportunities for AIIB’s partnerships,” she said.

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After India, China border standoff on the eastern Ladakh border, ties between the two nuclear-armed nations have severely deteriorated. Even as the disengagement talks are going on, there is still a long way to go before the two sides restore the peace at the border. In an attempt to counter China, the Indian government banned 59 Chinese applications, some of which have a huge user base in India.

Chinese state-run media, Global Times said that India is trying to gather more bargaining chips by adopting a seemingly tough attitude, which will, in reality, bring it even more economic pains.

As the country has shown little willingness to rectify its strategy, it is clear that India is preparing for a long-term conflict scenario. It further warned that a full economic decoupling from China may draw its economy back to its predicament two decades ago and the country has already been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.