China-Led Development Bank Adds More Members in Status Boost

Updated on
  • States from 5 continents join $100 billion infrastructure bank
  • Lender’s president says more countries still waiting to join

The standing of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is set to receive another boost after 13 further applicants were granted membership.

The accessions will bring the total roster of member countries to 70, and leave Japan and the U.S. as the only Group of Seven states without a stake in the lender. Memberships for Afghanistan, Armenia, Belgium, Canada, Ethiopia, Fiji, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Peru, Sudan, Timor Leste and Venezuela would be completed once they finish domestic processes and deposit the first payment of capital, the AIIB said in a statement Thursday.

At a time when the Trump administration is signaling it will cut foreign aid and more broadly disengage from multilateral organizations, additions to the ranks of the AIIB signal China’s increased role on the global stage. Shrugging off U.S. qualms about the lender, the U.K., Germany, France, Italy and other American allies such as Australia and South Korea already signed up last year.

Read more: AIIB’s Jin says his door still open to Trump after Obama snub

“I am very proud that AIIB now has members from almost every continent, and we anticipate further applications being considered by our board of governors later this year,”  Jin Liqun, the bank’s president, said in a press release.

About a dozen more nations are waiting for membership approval, bank spokesperson Laurel Ostfield said at a media briefing in Beijing. The door is still open to the U.S. and Japan, but the bank hasn’t yet received any requests from the two countries, she said.

As new members join, existing ones will see a small downward adjustment to their voting powers, according to Ostfield. China currently holds about 27.8 percent of votes in the bank, the AIIB’s website shows.

The bank has begun lending activities, backing nine projects in seven countries in 2016 with a total lending of $1.73 billion. Inaugural ventures ranged from a slum upgrade in Indonesia to a new pipeline linking gas fields in Azerbaijan to markets in Southern Europe, via Turkey.

This year’s annual meeting will be held in Jeju Island, South Korea, from June 14 to 16, said Ostfield.

— With assistance by Miao Han, and Brendan Scott

(Adds quotes from AIIB spokesperson from fifth paragraph.)
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