Taiwan rejected as AIIB's founder member

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Taiwan's bid to become a founding member of the new regional development bank has been rejected, Beijing said yesterday, dashing the island's hopes of having a platform in the institution from the start.

Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, said a Hong Kong report that the island had failed to become a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank was correct.

But he held out the possibility of Taiwan joining later if it meets a key naming condition.

"We are willing to continue to listen to the opinions of various parties to appropriately handle the issue of Taiwan's participation in the AIIB," Ma said in a statement.

"The AIIB... is open and inclusive and welcomes the Taiwan side to join under an appropriate name," he added.

Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations, World Bank or International Monetary Fund but it has joined some international organizations under different names.

Taiwan media cited a government report to its legislature as expressing regret it had not been allowed in as a founding member.

"It looks like the hope of Taiwan joining AIIB as a founding member has vanished," Taiwan's legislature speaker Wang Jin-pyng told reporters. "We still hope we could join as a member in the future and will keep striving for this.

"But then again, in what name we would join is important," he added, describing "Chinese Taipei" — the name under which Taiwan is referred to by the International Olympic Committee — as "the bottom line."

Taiwan is a member of the Asian Development Bank under the name "Taipei, China."

Taiwan's finance and mainland affairs authorities issued a statement announcing the island's letter of intent for AIIB membership on March 31, the deadline for such applications.

About 50 countries have applied to join the AIIB.

The United States, which leads the World Bank, and its Asian ally Japan, which heads the Asian Development Bank, have not sought membership.

Jin Liqun, secretary-general of China's interim secretariat which is establishing the AIIB, said at a forum in Singapore on Saturday that although China would have the biggest share in the bank, it would not dominate its operations.

"AIIB is a bank, not a political organization or political alliance," Jin was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency.

China has said it will announce the AIIB's list of founder members tomorrow, but it is not clear if the shareholding structure will also be finalized this week.

It has also said a board of governors will control the operations of the new bank. Founder members will initially pay up to one-fifth of the AIIB'S US$50 billion authorised capital, which will eventually be raised to US$100 billion.

Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa will also hold a meeting in Washington this week to iron out details of another international development bank, the US$100 billion BRICS bank launched last year, officials in Brasilia and Moscow said.

"The idea is that everything will be ready for 2016," said an official in Brasilia, adding that governance issues will be taken up in Washington.

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