TAIPEI -- President Ma Ying-jeou of Taiwan has declared his government's desire for membership of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), China's forthcoming development bank.
Ma's statement came as the U.S. and key European countries take different views of China's new financial institution.
Washington feels Beijing is creating the AIIB as a regional counterweight to the World Bank in Washington and the Asian Development Bank in Tokyo, while London, Berlin, Paris and Rome are coming on board with Beijing.
"We want to become an AIIB member because we can be a peacekeeper and provide aid for the region," Ma told Taiwan's mass circulation China Times.
Vincent Siew, a former vice president of Taiwan, will meet President Xi Jinping of China during the Boao Forum in China on Saturday, and the two are expected to discuss the AIIB.
Traditionally, Taiwan sees the U.S. as its most important strategic partner, but China-friendly Ma has promoted closer ties with Beijing since taking office in 2008.
However, there has been a growing feeling in Taiwan that Ma's China policies have undermined sovereignty and hurt the livelihoods of ordinary people. There is concern Beijing may use its increasing economic leverage to promote its territorial claims on Taiwan. The two sides split in 1949 after a civil war.
Ma's Nationalist Party suffered serious losses in mayoral elections in November, and may face an even more serious setback in the presidential election in January.
The main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has maintained a neutral stance on the issue of AIIB membership.
"We should see how the U.S. and countries in Europe and Asia react to the AIIB first and consider what is in there for us before making a decision," said DPP Spokesman Cheng Yun-peng. "The government should also tell the public clearly about whether its AIIB bid will affect Taiwan's sovereignty in any way."