BEIJING, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) — The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a China-initiated multilateral bank, started operational on Saturday, marking a milestone in the reform of global economic governance system.
Representatives of the 57 founding countries gathered in Beijing for the AIIB opening ceremony in Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. Chinese President Xi Jinping made a speech.
With joint efforts of all the members, the AIIB will become “a professional, efficient and clean development bank for the 21st century” and “a new platform to help foster a community of shared future for mankind, to make new contribution to prosperity of Asia and beyond and lend new strength to improvement of global economic governance,” Xi said.
During the ceremony, Chinese Finance Minister Lou Jiwei was announced to be elected as the first chairman of the AIIB board of governors. Jin Liqun was elected the first AIIB president.
In addition to subscribing capital according to plan, China vowed to contribute 50 million U.S. dollars to the project preparation special fund to be established soon, to support the preparation for infrastructure development projects in less developed member states.
The AIIB will promote infrastructure related investment and financing for the benefit of all sides, Xi said, keeping Asia’s enormous infrastructure development demand in mind.
Calling the initiative to establish the AIIB “a constructive move,” Xi said it will enable China “to undertake more international obligations, promote improvement of the current international economic system and provide more international public goods.”
Statistics from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) show that between 2010 and 2020, around eight trillion U.S. dollars in investment will be needed in the Asia-Pacific region to improve infrastructure.
Xi expected the China-initiated institution and other existing multilateral development banks to complement each other for mutual strength and cooperate on joint financing, knowledge sharing and capacity building.
In his address at the founding conference of the AIIB council on Saturday afternoon, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said the operation of the new multinational development bank is “of positive and constructive significance for the global economic governance reform.”
Hailing Asia “an engine” for the global economic growth, Li said the sustainable development of the Asian economy and regional economic integration rely on the infrastructure construction and connectivity, which would help facilitate the flow of trade, investment, personnel and information.
The aim of China initiating the AIIB is to widen financing channels, expand general needs and improve supply so as to bring along the common development in the region and promote world economic recovery with its own achievements, he said.
The premier called on the AIIB to integrate the China-proposed Belt and Road initiative with each country’s development strategies, promote international cooperation on production capacity and innovate more modes to realize a diverse and inclusive cooperation.
Global leaders extended congratulations to the opening of the multilateral development bank.
“The ADB will cooperate closely with AIIB in supporting the development of the Asia Pacific region,” said ADB President Takehiko Nakao in a congratulatory message to the opening of the AIIB.
“We will cooperate closely to provide support and constructive suggestions for the AIIB development,” said Yoo Il-ho, deputy prime minister of the Republic of Korea at the opening ceremony.
China’s Vice Finance Minister Shi Yaobin said in an interview with Xinhua that China does not intend to apply for financial support from AIIB in the initial stage.
“Though as the biggest shareholder of AIIB and the biggest developing country in the world, China is fully qualified to gain loans from the AIIB, but we made the decision mainly because that many other countries in the region are in more urgent need for infrastructure development,” said Shi.
Shi said China holds 30.34 percent of the whole capital stock, with the first batch of capital stock worth 1.19 billion U.S. dollars already in place.
The AIIB was proposed by President Xi Jinping in October 2013. Two years later, the bank was formally established as the Articles of Agreement took effect on Dec. 25 last year.
As its name suggests, the AIIB will finance construction of infrastructures — airports, mobile phone towers, railways and roads — in Asia.
Amid the evolving trend of the global economic landscape, Xi expected the AIIB will help make the global economic governance system more just, equitable and effective.