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China: 57 Countries to be Founding Members of AIIB

  • Reuters

FILE - Chinese President Xi Jinping, center, shows the way to the guests who attended the signing ceremony of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Oct. 24, 2014.

FILE - Chinese President Xi Jinping, center, shows the way to the guests who attended the signing ceremony of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Oct. 24, 2014.

A total of 57 countries will be founding members of the new Beijing-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), China's finance ministry said on Wednesday, throwing together countries as diverse as Iran, Israel, Britain and Laos.

Britain surprised some allies last month in deciding to join the AIIB, and was quickly followed by Germany, France and Italy. Among the Group of Seven (G7) industrialized countries, the United States, Japan and Canada remain as absentees.

Washington had cautioned nations about joining the bank, seen as a rival to the U.S.-dominated World Bank, citing what it called a lack of transparency, doubts about lending and environmental safeguards, and concerns over Beijing's influence.

“The AIIB has 57 countries as founding members, among those 37 are Asian countries, 20 are countries from outside the region,” China's Vice Finance Minister Shi Yaobin said in a interview with state media published to the ministry's website.

Shi said representatives from member countries would meet again at the end of April and May to agree upon an AIIB charter draft and “sign the charter by the end of June.”

Jin Liqun, secretary-general of China's interim secretariat which is establishing the AIIB, said at a forum in Singapore on Saturday that although China would have the biggest share in the bank, it would not dominate its operations.

Beijing says it will not hold veto power inside the AIIB, unlike the World Bank where Washington has a limited veto.

Beijing has also said a board of governors will control the operations of the new bank. Founder members will initially pay up to one-fifth of the AIIB'S $50 billion authorized capital, which will eventually be raised to $100 billion.

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