Denmark has applied to join the Beijing-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), China’s Ministry of Finance said yesterday, becoming the latest European power to join the institution despite the US’ misgivings.
The ministry said that Denmark has written to China to “announce its intention to apply to be a founding member” of the AIIB.
Meanwhile, Australia announced yesterday that it would join negotiations to establish the AIIB that has emerged as a potential challenge to US influence in the Asia-Pacific region.
“China welcomes Denmark’s decision,” the ministry said in a statement on its Web site, adding that China would first seek the views of other members. If the decision is approved, Denmark would officially become a founding member of the AIIB on April 12, the ministry said.
Danish Minister of Trade and Development Mogens Jensen called China’s establishment of the AIIB “a significant and exciting development in the world order.”
“Since many Danish trade interests as well as development cooperation interests will be at stake in AIIB, there are many reasons to engage in and influence AIIB’s investment decisions from its beginning,” Jensen said in a statement.
On Saturday, Russia, Australia and the Netherlands became the latest three nations to say they plan to join the AIIB, adding clout to an institution seen as enhancing China’s regional and global influence.
China has set tomorrow as the deadline to become a founding member of the AIIB, which has been seen as a challenge to the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, institutions Washington helped found and over which it exerts considerable influence.
However, the US has urged countries to think twice about joining the AIIB until it can show sufficient standards of governance and environmental and social safeguards.
The US’ European allies Britain, France, Germany and Italy announced this month they would join the bank. India and all 10 members of ASEAN are among the more than 30 governments that have so far sought to join the bank before the deadline.
While Japan, which has tense relations with China, is still holding out, US President Barack Obama’s administration appears increasingly at odds with sentiment in the very region where it has tried to strengthen its relationships over the past five years.
Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Treasurer Joe Hockey yesterday said in a joint statement that the government is to sign a memorandum of understanding that would allow Australia to participate as a prospective founding member in negotiations to set up the bank.
“Good progress has been made on the bank’s design, governance and transparency over the past few months, but we still have issues that we will address through ongoing consultations,” the statement said. “Key matters to be resolved before Australia considers joining the AIIB include the bank’s board of directors having authority over key investment decisions, and that no one country control the bank.”
Working with institutions such as the World Bank and the Asia Development Bank, the AIIB has the potential to play a valuable role in addressing infrastructure needs and boosting economic growth in the region, with potential benefits for Australia, the statement said.
Beijing has pledged to put up most of the initial US$50 billion in capital for the bank, which is expected to be set up by the end of the year. It is intended to help finance construction of roads and other infrastructure.
Additional reporting from AP
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