New York Times by Bree Feng
November 27, 2014
BEIJING — Indonesia has signed an official memorandum of understanding to join a China-backed regional development bank intended to rival organizations like the World Bank and to further Beijing’s aspirations for a leadership role in Asia.
Indonesia’s finance minister, Bambang Brodjonegoro, signed the agreement to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank on Tuesday at the offices of the Ministry of Finance in the capital, Jakarta, the ministry said.
Mr. Brodjonegoro had indicated this month that his country was willing to join the bank at an early date. According to a notice on the website of the Chinese Embassy in Indonesia, Mr. Brodjonegoro said at the signing that Indonesia “attaches great importance” to the establishment of the bank and could not sign earlier because of the country’s change in government, referring to the inauguration of President Joko Widodo last month.
China’s ambassador to Indonesia, Xie Feng, was present at the signing.
Chinese officials have said that the bank is meant to complement, not compete with, existing international institutions like the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank. However, critics have raised questions about the bank’s governance structure and levels of transparency. The United States has quietly lobbied regional allies, including South Korea and Japan, against joining.
Indonesia’s participation brings the total number of founding members to 22, with China holding a majority stake. Among the others are India, Malaysia and the Philippines. The bank’s headquarters is to be in Beijing, and its initial subscribed capital is to be about $50 billion. It is expected to be formally established by the end of next year.