Beijing: IMF chief Christine Lagarde today hailed China-funded Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as Beijing reached out to a suspicious US, saying any country willing to join the USD 50 billion multinational lender is welcome. Winding up her five-day visit, Lagarde who met Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and other officials said in a statement that during her talks with them she “welcomed China’s various initiatives in this area, including through the newly- established AIIB” as part of “impressive” reforms by China to reform its slowing down economy.
Lagarde, the International Monetary Fund’s Managing Director who was in India last week, also hailed the efforts to reform in areas including combating corruption, controlling pollution and “clearing the path to even more engagement with the world”. China also said it will permit other countries to invest as Washington mellowed down its opposition to the AIIB after its allies signed up for the bank seen as a competitor to the World Bank and the IMF.
The AIIB, which India and about 30 countries have joined as founding members, has already received formal backing from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB). “Majority of countries are willing to join AIIB as prospective members,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a media briefing here today replying to a question on US officials’ comments that Washington looks to work with China to set up the bank which it earlier opposed.
“It fully shows that the AIIB will serve the infrastructure building in Asia. We emphasised that the AIIB will operate and build following high standards,” Hong said. As China’s European allies like Germany, Britain and France made a beeline to join the AIIB, US Treasury Under Secretary for International Affairs Nathan Sheets said: “the US would welcome new multilateral institutions that strengthen the international financial architecture.” “If the new bank were to adopt the same governance and operational standards, it could both bolster the international financial system and help meet major infrastructure-investment gaps,” he was quoted as saying by reports from the US.
Hong said China will make the bank an important platform in financing and multilateral development. “Any country willing to join the AIIB is welcome. We are also happy to work with relevant countries to draw upon the good practice of the major multilateral banks of the world so as to enable AIIB to operate effectively,” he said.