China media: Asian bank

CHINA, March 19: Papers warmly welcome France, Germany and Italy’s decision to join a China-led bank, while lashing out at the US for “obstructing” others’ participation.

The three European countries have agreed to join the UK in becoming members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the Xinhua News Agency reports.

The move comes after the US last week issued a rare rebuke to the UK over its decision to join.

The US considers the AIIB a rival to the Western-dominated World Bank and has questioned the governance standards at the new institution, which it sees as an attempt to spread China’s “soft power”.

The AIIB, which was created in October by 21 countries, led by China, will fund Asian energy, transport and infrastructure projects.

Excited with the latest development, the official Xinhua News Agency praises the three new members for making the “brave yet rational move”.

“The AIIB is by no means a zero-sum game. It serves no one’s appetite for hegemony or dominance… holding sour grapes over the AIIB makes America look isolated and hypocritical,” says the news agency, while calling on Washington to join the bank.

The People’s Daily highlights that “more and more Western countries are expressing interest to join the bank”. It adds that China’s strong development was “the source of confidence” for these countries.

A front-page commentary in the overseas edition of the daily says the new institution will bring “mutual benefits” to all parties involved, while criticising the US for “thinking of all ways to obstruct others to join”.

“The US has been urging China to take on a more leadership role… When China proposed the establishment of the bank to take on more responsibilities, Washington is trying to stop it. This is short-sighted and hypocritical,” says the article.

The China Daily and the Global Times dismiss views that the China-led bank has been created to counter Washington’s influence in the global banking system.

“Such misrepresentation is harmful… US obstructionism has been less than effective this time because it has failed to see that Washington and Beijing have no reason to stand against each other on such matters,” argues the China Daily.

“The US tries to contain it [the AIIB] with a geopolitical mind-set, but it lacks a strong case,” notes the Global Times, adding that the “evolution” of the bank shows that China “is its own master”.

Overseas audit

Meanwhile, papers applaud the authorities’ decision to launch a “comprehensive audit” of the overseas assets of the country’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

According to the China Daily, China’s top state-asset regulator has invited tenders to audit the overseas assets to “tighten oversight of state-owned firms’ international operations”.

The report says this is the first time the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission has decided to audit the assets through a tender

China’s authorities had earlier revealed that a large amount of overseas assets of state-owned enterprises, totalling more than 4 trillion yuan ($637bn; £415bn), had never been audited.

Xu Baoli, the director of the commission’s research centre, points out that that there could be “potential risks or even serious problems with the overseas assets held by SOEs”.

“Comprehensive auditing will allow the regulator to gain an overall knowledge of the situation and to learn how serious the problems are,” the expert tells the daily.

‘Selfie-sticks banned’

And finally, several museums in Beijing have decided to ban selfie-sticks.

The National Palace Museum, Capital Museum and Beijing Art Museum announced on Tuesday that tourists will be prohibited from carrying selfie sticks, the Beijing News reports.

Selfie sticks are handheld poles that allow users to take better pictures on their smartphones.

“There are hidden dangers in using the devices, as they may hurt other visitors or damage the displays,” a spokesperson from the National Palace Museum says.

Supporting the ban, Mr Gao, a cultural expert tells the paper that “museum is a place to learn”.

“It is different from going for sightseeing… raising the sticks around the galleries will disturb the quiet environment in the museums,” says the pundit.