Voice

World Bank wants others to learn from China

The World Bank and the Chinese government have just announced a new joint initiative designed to disseminate knowledge about China's anti-poverty and urbanization successes:

“China has lifted 600 million people out of poverty in the last 30 years, and the demand is growing among other developing countries to learn from its remarkable progress,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “The new knowledge hub will play an important role in making China’s lessons available to the world and will further our common mission to end extreme poverty and build shared prosperity.”

"The hub will become a new and open centre for developing countries to learn from each other,” said the Chinese Minister of Finance Xie Xuren.

Under the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the World Bank-China Knowledge Hub for Development signed in Beijing by Kim and the Chinese Minister of Finance Xie Xuren, the first pilot, called TRANS-FORM, will focus on urban transport. This focus was selected because of the urgent need for innovative solutions to deliver green, inclusive, and low-carbon development.

The Multilateralist

Is ASEAN sinking on South China Sea?

Last week's ASEAN meetings--and the broader East Asia Summit--seem to have done little to resolve the regional organization's internal debate over how to respond to China's claims to the South China Sea. ASEAN members Cambodia and the Philippines, in particular, resumed their months-long dispute over whether and how to broach the issue in multilateral fora. 

Writing in The Australian, journalist Philip Bowring argues that ASEAN has likely reached the end of its usefulness on the maritime dispute. What's needed, he insists, is a more cohesive grouping of regional states to oppose China's ambitious claims:

More talk at ASEAN meetings about codes of conduct is delusional stuff. The code, while loved by ASEAN foreign ministers, has done nothing to shield Vietnam and The Philippines from Chinese incursions into their 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zones. Malaysia and Brunei have so far escaped direct Chinese attention thanks to their small EEZs and island claims, but China's long arm will reach their waters soon enough.

These countries plus Indonesia need to set up a special group, linked to ASEAN, that can build consensus on negotiating with China. Indonesia has to be a part because as the largest southeast state and implied leader of the Malay world it has much to lose diplomatically from China dominating the smaller states.

In this interview, ASEAN secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan puts a more positive spin on recent developments:

I would say we have come a long way from July this year. Because July this year we could not issue a communique at all on this issue because of this issue.

Now the way in which the issue was brought up was very civil, was very courteous to each other. We have our interests in the stability and security of this particular body of waters. That's pretty much the tone.