HONG KONG - The China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has approved Papua New Guinea as a new member as Beijing tries to bolster its economic influence in Asia and beyond.
AIIB head Jin Liqun has dismissed allegations that one of the bank’s roles is to support the growth of China’s soft power, saying it had its own operating standards.
With PNG and Kenya’s participation, the development bank expands its membership to 86, but the United States and Japan have stayed away amid scepticism over its governance and lending standards.
Beijing has sought to boost infrastructure networks in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa to attain its goal of more closely connecting nations under its ‘Belt and Road Initiative’.
Washington and Tokyo are the only major industrial powers that have not joined.
In January, AIIB had approved funding for 24 infrastructure projects, five of them in India. Loans to the Indian projects – totalling nearly US$1.1 billion – account for almost 28% of the money it has loaned.
The AIIB was first proposed by Chinese president Xi Jinping in 2013 and opened for business in January 2016.
It focuses on funding the construction of roads, railway lines, ports and energy and rural infrastructure.
After China, India is the second largest shareholder (7.7%), followed by Russia (6.1%) and Germany (4.27%).
Beijing has effective veto power as major bank decisions require at least 75% member support.