The perception that future socio-economic progress across ‘developing Asia’ hinges on massive infrastructure investment is now normative.1 Indeed, while the last decade has seen developing Asia build more infrastructure across all sectors than any other region, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) estimates that the region still requires US$26 trillion of infrastructure investment over the next 15 years (ADB, 2017, pp. vii, 10). In order to meet this challenge, new forms of cooperation between nation-states and multilateral development banks (MDBs) are required.2 Such cooperation is occurring, but takes place alongside new forms of competition and contestation.
This chapter explores some of the emergent collaborations and tensions between two of Asia’s leading providers of infrastructure financing: the ADB and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). It provides a brief summary of the similar-ities and differences in the institutional size, scale, and objectives of these institu-tions; an analysis of the geo-political relations in which they are embedded; and a critique of their repeated assertion that transnational connectivity, economic growth, and infrastructural modernisation naturally lead to positive development outcomes for all. The chapter argues both that AIIB and ADB projects have the potential to cause substantial harm alongside benefits, and that while AIIB has quickly emerged as a leading financer of infrastructure development, the ADB remains far more influential in producing development discourse and norms. Finally, the chapter sug-gests that the co-existence of ADB and AIIB is likely to further reinforce the increasing redirection of the global development sector away from a poverty reduc-tion mandate towards the prioritisation of economic growth-focused investments and interventions (Mawdsley et al., 2018; Murray and Overton, 2016).