Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) president-designate Jin Liqun receives an interview with Xinhua in Beijing, capital of China, on Dec. 10, 2015. (Xinhua/Li Xin)
BEIJING, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- The inauguration ceremony of China-proposed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) on Saturday put its newly-elected president Jin Liqun in the spotlight, again. The veteran banker, whose surname means "gold" in Chinese, has much to do to prove to the world that this new institution will strike gold and bring some fresh air to the global economic governance system.
DIPLOMAT IN FINANCIAL WORLD
Jin's office in downtown Beijing is lined with book shelves, many of which are in English and French, and tomes are within reach no matter where you stand. The son of a teacher, Jin was born in east China's Jiangsu Province in 1949, and grew to be one of China's most well-known multilingual bankers.
From the Ministry of Finance to the Asian Development Bank and then to China's sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corporation and to China's first joint venture investment bank China International Capital Corp., Jin has a shining leadership record in the public and private sectors and multilateral development institutions.
Since his first job at the Chinese executive board office of the World Bank in the 1980s, he has played a central role in linking China's economic affairs to those of the world by representing China in talks with the United States, UK, APEC and other bilateral and multilateral dialogues. Many called him the diplomat in financial circles.
In 2014, at the age of 65, Jin took on a new mission. As secretary general of the Multilateral Interim Secretariat of AIIB, Jin and his team successfully convinced 57 countries both from developed and developing countries to join the China-initiated multilateral bank.
"China received much support from multilateral financial institutions and aid during the past three decades. The world's second largest economy is now sharing the responsibility and doing something for the rest of the world, hence the establishment of AIIB," Jin said.
LEAN, CLEAN, GREEN
Jin always has a passion for helping less developed regions. This was influenced, in part, by the 10 years he spent with the poor but kindhearted Chinese farmers during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976).
"I will never forget their needs, their expectations and aspirations. The experience in the countryside has changed my life, and now it's my obligation to change theirs," Jin said.
The compassion made him suited to his post at the AIIB, which is born with the task to finance infrastructure construction across Asia.
With authorized capital of 100 billion U.S. dollars, AIIB will invest in infrastructure, energy, transportation, urban construction, water supply and logistics as well as education and health care.
AIIB will hand out loans from mid 2016, according to Jin. Profit maximization will not be AIIB's goal due to its multilateral financial institution status, he said, but the bank's investment projects have to be profitable to ensure financial sustainability.
Meanwhile, the bank is also working on documents to accord the business practices with environmental and social development. Jin said the target projects must be financially, environmentally and socially sustainable.
He also underscored the code of conduct within the bank. "There will be zero tolerance of corruption, and we will make the bank lean, clean and green," Jin said.
According to those close with Jin, part of his charisma has originated from his scholarship on literature and economics. He became interested in English when he was in middle school and would spend his spare time trawling through the English collection at libraries to discover original works.
During the ten years he spent in the countryside in the Cultural Revolution, Jin kept reading English books. The works of Shakespeare were to become one of his favorite learning materials, lines from which Jin would readily quote, even till now.
As a Hubert Humphrey Fellow in the Economics Graduate Program at Boston University and a professional banker, Jin never gave up his scholarly aspirations, both in finance and literature. He continued to collect Shakespeare's works, translated the classic banking history "The House of Morgan" and published a book on British poems. He also has a book on Shakespeare's works that has been an ongoing project for many years.
He is also known for his outstanding time management philosophy and skills. "I am always reading or writing during trips. Tiny drops make the sea. You will make a difference by utilizing every minute," Jin said.