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International relations

China-led development bank expands roster to 100

Despite membership growth, AIIB's lending misses goal

The headquarters of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is seen under construction in Beijing. China essentially has veto power over the bank.   © Reuters

LUXEMBOURG -- The China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is adding three members to bring the number of approved countries and regions to 100, President Jin Liqun said at the AIIB's annual meeting here Friday.

The current tally of 97 includes prospective members yet to officially join. Jin did not name the three newcomers, which will receive official approval Saturday. The bank had 57 members, including prospectives, at its launch in 2016. Today, roughly half of the current roster consists of countries outside Asia, in places like Europe and Africa.

The AIIB has approved 45 projects so far -- mostly in India and Indonesia, but also for energy development in Turkey and Egypt, as well as port construction in Oman.

But the bank's lending is sluggish overall. The AIIB reports cumulative total investment of $8.4 billion, far behind its minimum annual goal of $10 billion. About 60% of the total is joint financing with other international institutions, such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

The AIIB is prioritizing quality, according to Jin.

Wariness over China's Belt and Road infrastructure-building initiative is part of what is hampering the AIIB. China has more than 25% of the voting rights and essentially can veto key decisions. The bank is headquartered in Beijing and led by a Chinese national, creating doubts about transparency.

China's tensions with the U.S. have also been a challenge. The previous World Bank president, Jim Yong Kim, had focused on working with China and the AIIB but stepped down in the middle of his term. He was replaced by known China hawk David Malpass, a former undersecretary of the Treasury in the Trump administration.

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