China-backed AIIB seeks cooperation and new members

Sat Jun 25, 2016 8:06am EDT
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By Elias Glenn

BEIJING (Reuters) - The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) stressed its independence from China at its first annual meeting on Saturday, saying it plans to cooperate with other development banks and add new members, including Hong Kong.

Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the bank two years ago and it began operations in January, with 57 founding member countries and $100 billion in committed capital, which it plans to invest in projects across the region.

The AIIB, which intends to invest $1.2 billion this year, said it is aiming to meet international standards of governance, although some members say there is still work to be done.

And in response to concern that China, its biggest backer, will dominate, the AIIB said it answers to all its shareholders.

"China as much as other shareholders has been very supportive of the governance standards that we're setting and of the transparency around the bank's operations," AIIB vice president Danny Alexander said.

AIIB's board approved its first four deals worth $509 million on Friday, with three projects co-financed with the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the United Kingdom Department for International Development and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

The co-financed projects are a slum renovation in Indonesia and highway construction in Pakistan and Tajikistan. A power grid upgrade project in Bangladesh will be solely AIIB financed.

"We are working on a number of additional projects and look forward to bringing them to our Board for its approval later this year," said AIIB President Jin Liqun.   Continued...

China's Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli attends the opening ceremony of the first annual meeting of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in Beijing, China, June 25, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Lee