Government ponders decision on joining China-led AIIB
(The Philippine Star) - December 10, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The clock is ticking for the Philippines, now the only prospective member which has not joined the China-led multilateral agency, yet the Aquino administration has not put any effort in even deciding on the matter.

The country is the last of the 57 prospective members yet to sign the Articles of Agreement of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) that will start operations next year. Economies have until the end of the month to join.

“We are still awaiting a decision by Malacañang,” National Treasurer Roberto Tan told The STAR in a text message yesterday.

Herminio Coloma Jr., secretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office, said there is “no decision as of now” in joining the AIIB, seen to rival the US-led World Bank and Japan-chaired and Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB).

But the problem lies not on fear of irritating Japan and the US, the country’s oldest ally, but more on Manila’s tensions with Beijing over the South China Sea, which President Aquino has publicly admitted to be a factor on the government’s decision.

Richard Javad Heydarian, political analyst at De la Salle University, said it did not help the country convinced the United Nations International Court to hear its case against the world’s second largest economy despite the latter’s non-participation.

The Hague just finished hearing the country’s first set of arguments on the merits of the case.

“And there seems to be little appetite for any kind of meaningful engagement, including under the auspices of China-led multilateral body like AIIB, as far as the Aquino administration is concerned,” Heydarian said.

Even during the last month’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings in Manila, Aquino’s cold treatment to Chinese President Xi Jinping was evident.

Before the APEC gathering, Foreign Affairs spokesperson Charles Jose told The STAR  AIIB would not be taken up on any of Aquino’s bilateral meetings.

Come APEC meeting proper, China and the Philippines did not even hold a one-on-one session.

ACIRC AQUINO ARTICLES OF AGREEMENT OF THE ASIAN INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT BANK ASIA-PACIFIC ECONOMIC COOPERATION ASIAN DEVELOPMENT BANK CHARLES JOSE CHINA AND THE PHILIPPINES CHINESE PRESIDENT XI JINPING FOREIGN AFFAIRS HERMINIO COLOMA JR. NATIONAL TREASURER ROBERTO TAN
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