China’s bid to launch the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has been an outstanding success so far, attracting more than 40 potential founding members. But who will run the bank on a day-to-day basis and where will they be based?
While acknowledging that Beijing will obviously make the key strategic decisions, renowned Hong Kong political commentator Albert Cheng King-hon is calling for his city to be the AIIB’s operations centre (despite no official word yet that this will be the case). Cheng, writing in the South China Morning Post, also sets out a handy list of those who he thinks could do a good job of managing the bank’s operations from Hong Kong:
1) John Tsang Chun-wah: One of the heaviest political hitters on the list, Hong Kong’s Financial Secretary, who has been in his current job for eight years, would be “well suited” for the AIIB role, according to Cheng.
2) Norman Chan Tak-lam: Both a regulator and a banker, Chan has been the chief executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority since 2009 and was previously regional vice chairman of Standard Chartered Bank.
3) Joseph Yam Chi-kwong: Chan’s predecessor at the HKMA, Yam “is highly regarded in banking circles”, writes Cheng in the SCMP. He is a consultant of the People’s Bank of China and a board member of UBS.
4) Andrew Sheng: Boasting an “impeccable track record in global finance”, Sheng is a former chairman of the Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong and is currently chief adviser to the China Banking Regulatory Commission. An economist, he was included in Time magazine’s 2013 list of the world’s 100 most influential people.
5) Donald Tsang Yam-kuen: Tsang was the second Chief Executive and President of the Executive Council of Hong Kong from 2005 to 2012. He’s been “rubbing shoulders with world leaders in his four decades of public service”, writes Cheng in the SCMP.
Wherever the AIIB is based, however, Beijing may opt to appoint someone from a banking background rather than a purely political one. The Chinese government is currently imposing market-based reforms on the upper ranks of state-owned banks, with political appointees falling out of favour.
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