Beijing, Apr 1: In a surprise move, China today said it welcomed Taiwan's application to join the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank under an "appropriate name," a day after the cash-rich island, which China views as a rebel province, applied to join the Beijing-backed institution.
China welcomes Taiwan's participation in the AIIB under an appropriate name, an official Chinese spokesman in-charge of Taiwan affairs said.
Taiwan, which split from mainland China in 1949 after a long civil war and is still not recognised by China, had yesterday issued an letter of intent to join the Beijing-led AIIB, seen by many as a counterweight to Washington-backed World Bank, IMF, and the Japanese-led Asian Development Bank (ADB).
Taiwan is not a member of the UN, World Bank or IMF but it has joined some international organisations under different names. The State Council Taiwan Affairs Office has received Taiwan's letter of intent on joining the AIIB and has transferred the letter to the Multilateral Interim Secretariat for the Bank, state-run Xinhua news agency quoted the office's spokesman Ma Xiaoguang.
"The AIIB is open and inclusive," Ma said, adding, "We welcome Taiwan to participate in the AIIB under an appropriate name." March 31 was the deadline for such applications pending the agreement of the bank's existing 30 prospective founding members.
The AIIB, which will have USD 50 billion investment aims to provide support to infrastructure projects in Asia. It is expected to be established by the end of this year. At least 47 countries and territories from five continents have applied to join the Beijing-led AIIB as founding members.
Sweden and Kyrgyzstan were among the last to apply before the end of the deadline. Chinese Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that 30 countries had already been approved as Prospective Founding Members (PFMs), but the exact number of PFMs would not be confirmed until April 15.
"Some applicant states are still undergoing a multilateral review process," she said.