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Saturday, January 16, 2016, 19:29

China-initiated AIIB officially launched

By Li Xiaokun

China-initiated AIIB officially launched
Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during the opening ceremony of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank in Beijing on Jan 16, 2016. (AFP PHOTO /POOL)

BEIJING - The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a China-initiated multilateral bank, started operation on Saturday, marking a milestone to reform global economic governance system.

Representatives of the 57 prospective founding countries gathered in Beijing for the AIIB opening ceremony in the downtown Diaoyutai State Guesthouse.

"This is a moment that will be recorded in history," Chinese President Xi Jinping said when addressing the event.

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.

China vowed to contribute US$50 million 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.

Statistics from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) show that between 2010 and 2020, around US$8 trillion 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.

Chinese Finance Minister Lou Jiwei was elected as the first chairman of the AIIB Board of Governors. Jin Liqun was elected the first AIIB president.

China-initiated AIIB officially launched
Chinese President Xi Jinping applauds after unveiling a sculpture during the opening ceremony of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Ban k in Beijing, Jan 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, Pool)

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.

South Korean Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho quoted a sentence of famous Chinese writer Lu Xun to describe the process of AIIB's establishment.

"Originally there is no path in this world, but when there are many who have walked upon it, then a path came into being."

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.

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.

The development bank was formally established in Beijing on Dec 25, 2015. It is the first China-initiated multi-lateral financial institution.

In 2013, President Xi Jinping first proposed the idea of the bank. In just two years, the bank, headquartered in Beijing, now has 57 members, many from outside the region.

(With Xinhua input)

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