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China's Finance Ministry Welcomes New AIIB Members
   2015-03-18 08:34:55    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Zhangshuai

EU parliament president Martin Schulz speaks at a news conference in Beijing on March 17, 2015. Schulz says he welcomes the four European nations joining the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). [Photo: CFP]

A group of new European countries have decided to join the Chinese-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

The decision by France, Italy and Germany to join the organization is being lauded by the Chinese Finance Ministry.

CRI's Qi Zhi has more.

The Ministry of Finance has issued a statement on its website, saying the three countries will be founding members in two weeks once other confirmed members of the AIIB approve the move.

The governments of France, Italy and Germany all say they will submit their confirmation letters as soon as possible.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble.

"We agree that infrastructure investments are of vital importance for Asia's further development. That's why we welcome the Chinese intention to found an infrastructure bank for Asia with additional partners which with its seat in Beijing will make an important contribution. Germany, together with our partners France and Italy, intends to become a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank."

The move by the three European heavy-weights follows on the heels of the British government applying to be part of the 50-billion US dollar bank last week.

At the same time, Australian politicians have also been voicing support for joining the bank over the past few days, marking a U-turn from the Australian cabinet's previous stance.

In addition, South Korea, Switzerland and Luxembourg are reportedly considering whether to join the bank.

The Chinese government says it will welcome any new membership to the AIIB, saying it is an open institution.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei.

"AIIB is an open and inclusive multilateral investment organization. The participation of countries outside the region shows that AIIB has broad representation. China is willing to work with any other parties to make the AIIB a professional and efficient investment platform for infrastructure construction."

Responding to concerns from the US government that the AIIB should adhere to the high standards of the World Bank, the Chinese government says it plans to draw experiences from other multilateral development banks.

In making the statement, the Chinese government also says it hopes to avoid the detours seen in similar organizations, while at the same time, be more cost-effective.

So far, around 30 countries have confirmed their participation in the AIIB.

When it comes to Japan, the Chinese government says the AIIB remains open for all Asian countries.

Japan is the biggest contributor to the Asian Development Bank, along with the U.S.

It's being reported the head of the ADB says the two institutions could cooperate.

Jean-Marc Blanchard is the director Multinational Corporation Studies at Jiaotong University in Shanghai.

He suggests the AIIB should be viewed as a supplement to institutions such as the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank.

"The infrastructure needs in Asia, they are in trillions. These entities, World Bank and Asian Development Bank, they just don't have the resources to fund this amount of infrastructure and what spending they are doing on infrastructure is relatively small. But whether they will be competitors, it's too soon to say. And they don't have to be. They can focus on different areas, countries and projects. There can be a lot of cooperative interactions."

The concept of the Asian Infrasturture Investment Bank was first put forward late last year as a way to help develop the Chinese government's vision of a 21st century Silk Road, focusing on transportation, energy, telecommunications and other infrastructure investment.

The AIIB is expected to be formally established by the end of the year.

March 31st has been set as the deadline for accepting founding-members into the organization.

For CRI, I'm Qi Zhi.

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