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29 March 2015
Australia to join Regional Development Bank led by China
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Australia plans to join an Asian infrastructure bank led byChina, the government announced on Sunday, reversing an earlier decision taken at the behest of the United States not to become a member.
 
The office of Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in a statement that Australia still had concerns about the management of the bank but recognized the pressing needs for infrastructure in the Asian region.
 
“The government is today announcing it intends to sign a memorandum of understanding on the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which would allow Australia to participate as a prospective founding member in negotiations to set up the bank,” the statement said.
 
Australia said it wanted to ensure the board of directors had authority over crucial investment decisions, and that ”no one country,” a reference to China, controls the bank.
 
The decision to join the bank is an about-face for the government, which, with South Korea, agreed to go along with the Obama administration’s requests last year that major Asian allies stay aloof from the bank.
 
The Obama administration publicly criticized Britain for joining earlier this month, saying it was a sign of “accommodation” with China.
 
But when Britain and then France, Italy and Germany announced plans to join the bank this month, Australia, which counts China as its biggest trading partner, came under increased pressure to sign on.
 
Another major trading partner with China, South Korea, said last week it would join the Beijing-based bank.
 
Washington eased its opposition slightly as members of the G20 group of advanced economies joined the bank, saying last week that it would encourage the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank to cooperate with the new institution.
 
A chief justification for the new bank is the failure of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, which is based in Manila and led by Japan, to keep up with the huge needs for roads, rail and power in large areas of fast-developing Asia.
 
Japan, China’s biggest competitor in Asia, remains outside the bank, although the Japanese finance minister, Taro Aso, who leads a faction inside the government in favor of joining, said Tokyo would consider entering talks about membership.

New York Times
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