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Founding 57 members of China-led AIIB investment bank sign up in Great Hall ceremony

The 57 founding members of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) have attended the signing ceremony for the formation of the new bank in Beijing. Key absentees were the US and Japan.

Australia was the first country to sign the articles of association for the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) on Monday. It is the sixth-largest investor in the multilateral bank, with a $719-million (653-million-euro) initial contribution. China, India, Russia,

Germany

and South Korea have contributed larger sums.

"We are absolutely satisfied that the government arrangements now in place will ensure that there is appropriate transparency and accountability in the bank," Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey said.

According to the AIIB's articles of incorporation, China is providing nearly $30 billion of the institution's $100 billion capital base. This gives Beijing between 25 and 30 percent of total votes.

The ceremony was held in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The bank which is due to start operations later this year.

The bank is expected to become a rival to the World Bank, and is designed to help finance new roads, bridges, dams and other public projects in the Asia-Pacific region.

China has argued that current funding from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank is not enough for all the planned projects.

The AIIB will open with an initial subscribed capital base of $50 billion with Beijing providing half of that amount.

Neither the US nor Japan have joined the AIIB. In April, US President Barack Obama had suggested the bank lacked clear guidelines: "What we have said, and what we said to all the other countries involved is if we're going to have a multilateral lending institution, then you have to have some guidelines by which it's going to operate," he said. "This could be a positive thing, but if it's not run well, then it could be a negative thing."

China premier in Brussels

Also on Monday, China's premier, Li Keqiang was in Brussels for a summit with the new heads of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, and the European Council of EU leaders, Donald Tusk.

"This meeting will send a positive signal that China and the EU can push growth through reform and innovation," Chinese Deputy Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen said ahead of the meeting.

A deal for Beijing to invest billions in European telecoms infrastructure is expected to be discussed.

China is also expected to present its plans in relation to a new global deal on climate change which will be discussed at UN talks in France later this year. China is currently responsible for about 25 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions.

jm/bk (AFP, Reuters)

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