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China Welcomes Partner Nations for New Infrastructure Bank

China's Finance Minister Lou Jiwei walks to sign the articles of agreement of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, June 29, 2015.

Delegates from 57 nations gathered in Beijing's Great Hall of the People Monday to sign the agreement establishing the new China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

"We are very happy today to see representatives of the 57 prospective members [of AIIB] gathered together. This shows a spirit of unity and cooperation, openness and inclusion. I trust that if we continue with this spirit of multilateral cooperation, then the preparation work for the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank will be conducted successfully,” said Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Australia was the first nation to sign the agreement, which is designed to finance Asia’s massive $800 billion need annually for highways, railways, ports, telecommunications, energy and electricity projects.

China is providing nearly $30 billion of the AIIB's $100 billion capital base, and will hold over 25 percent of voting rights in the bank. India and Russia are the bank's second and third largest shareholders.

The new Asia Infrastructure Development Bank is viewed by some as a rival to the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. The United States and Japan have refused to join, citing concerns about the bank’s transparency and fair governance as well as its ability to uphold high environmental and labor standards.

Washington unsuccessfully tried to convince many of its allies not to join, including those from Africa, Europe and South America.