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Discursive Self-Legitimation of Emerging Power-Led Global Governance Institutions: the New Development Bank (NDB) and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)

Asia
China
India
Institutions
International Relations
Qualitative
Communication
Sinan Chu
German Institute of Global And Area Studies
Sinan Chu
German Institute of Global And Area Studies
Johannes Plagemann
German Institute of Global And Area Studies

Abstract

In this paper we examine how the two most visible emerging power-led global governance institutions (GGIs), the New Development Bank (NDB) and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), produce their own discourse of legitimation. The study is based on expert interviews in Beijing and Shanghai in 2019 and a quantitative content analysis of 335 official news release from the two organizations. Conceptually, we use Beetham’s three-dimensional understanding of legitimacy – i.e. legality, normative justifiability, and acts of recognition – to examine the different challenges voiced against NDB and AIIB as well as their respective discursive self-legitimation strategies over the past five years (2015-2020). The paper makes three contributions. First, we develop an analytical framework for the systematic study of discursive self-legitimation that can be adapted to a variety of different GGIs. Secondly, we provide an up-to-date empirical study of NDB and AIIB’s discursive self-legitimation. Here, we are particularly attentive to changes in the perceived legitimation challenges and self-legitimation as the two IOs transitioned from their founding phase to being operational. Thirdly, based on the findings, we tentatively theorize the causes for the changes in the two IOs’ self-legitimation discourse, which could serve as the basis for further theory-building in the study of self-legitimation of GGIs.