Australia to join China-led AIIB as founding member

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Image caption Australia's treasurer Joe Hockey said the decision to join the AIIB followed extensive discussions with China

Australia has said it will join a China-led infrastructure bank as a founding member, contributing 930m Australian dollars ($718.5m; £455m) over five years.

The move will make Australia the sixth biggest shareholder of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

More than 50 members have signed up to the lender, which is widely seen as a rival to the Western-led World Bank.

The US and Japan have refused to join, however.

Both countries have raised concerns over the bank's standards of governance, while there are concerns in the US that the AIIB could be used by China to extend its political influence.

The Beijing-based lender will help finance construction of roads, ports, railways and other infrastructure projects in Asia. The UK, France, Germany and Iran are among its members.

'Great opportunities'

Australia's decision to join "comes after extensive discussions between the government, China and other key partners around the world", said Australia's Treasurer Joe Hockey.

"The governance of the AIIB will be based on best practice, ensuring that all members will be directly involved in the direction and decision making of the bank in an open and transparent manner."

Mr Hockey said the AIIB would have paid-in capital of $20bn, "with total authorised capital of US$100bn".

The lender would provide Australia with "great opportunities to work with our neighbours and largest trading partner to drive economic growth and jobs", he added.

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