At Zero Distance | A Visit to AIIB

On November 30, Yenching Academy teachers and students visited the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) located next to the Olympic Forest Park. The visit was organized by Tobias Knörich and Stefanie Reisinger from the 2023 cohort. Ludger Schuknecht, Vice President and Corporate Secretary of AIIB, received the visiting YCA group. Also, Pier Ferdinando Cinotto (Italy, 2022 cohort) and Wesley Harfield (New Zealand, 2018 cohort), both currently working at AIIB, were invited to join the meeting.

Mr. Schuknecht extended his warm welcome to the YCA teachers and students. He gave a detailed introduction to AIIB’s history, vision and mission, organizational structure, and future development plan, elaborating on the Bank’s commitment to being “lean, clean, and green.” Emphasizing its role as a multilateral development bank focused on developing Asia, with members from across the world, Mr. Schuknecht underscored AIIB’s aim to unlock finance for infrastructure development in Asia. The Bank represents a new form of partnership and global governance, complementing the efforts of other multilateral organizations, such as the World Bank and the United Nations, and plays a vital role in promoting fair and sustainable development worldwide.

The Vice President also showed the YCA group AIIB’s projects and achievements in sustainable development. Mr. Schuknecht stressed the Bank’s commitment to fostering sustainable economic development and creating job opportunities for local communities through strategic investments in energy, transport, water conservancy, and other infrastructure projects.

YCA Scholars raised questions and discussed the Bank’s business architecture, project selection criteria, financial operations, infrastructure investments, and collaboration between AIIB, governmental organizations, and other international organizations.

After the meeting, our Scholars toured the Asia Financial Center and were amazed at the building’s design. Inspired by the traditional Chinese puzzle Lu Ban Lock, the design combines the mortise-and-tenon structure and modern architecture, featuring stacked volumes that symbolize AIIB’s commitment to the mutual benefit and win-win cooperation of its member nations. The sky terrace resembles a botanical garden, showcasing plants from AIIB’s member nations, while the culture corridor is lined with art pieces from these nations, highlighting the principles of multilateral cooperation, connectivity, and transparency.

Our Scholars gained firsthand experience of the nature and workings of an international organization, obtaining a clearer vision of their career development. This experience also strengthened their resolve to foster stronger global collaboration for mutual benefits and common prosperity.

Tobias Knörich (Germany, 2023 cohort): The visit was impressive, and Mr. Vice President had a candid dialogue with us. We discussed strategies for establishing and implementing effective multilateral collaboration in the face of current challenges. I was particularly impressed with Mr. Schuknecht ’s insights on these issues.

Chen Ning (China, 2023 cohort): I greatly appreciated this visit. Engaging in in-depth talks with AIIB’s senior management provided a precious and insightful experience. This visit made me think more about China’s role in global governance — its goals, motives, and methods of participation. As a result, I now harbor heightened anticipation for a shared future of mankind.

Julian Chiao (USA, 2023 cohort): During this visit to AIIB’s headquarters and in Mr. Vice President’s speech on the Bank’s vision and planning, I observed a new pattern of collaboration for global development. This experience has sparked thoughts about the possibility of working and living in Beijing after my graduation.

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