Russia expects the China-led Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to approve its first loans within six months. As Hayley Platt reports, many see the bank launched at the weekend as a rival to the U.S-led World Bank.
A lavish ceremony as China's President Xi Jingping launched a new bank at the weekend. The Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank is expected to lend $10 - $15 billion a year for the first five or six years. China wants to attract investors to help pay for new infrastructure projects at home and abroad. The President marked the occasion by pledging further funds towards a $100 billion target. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) CHINESE PRESIDENT XI JINPING, SAYING: "We will invest $50 million to support the preparation of infrastructure projects in underdeveloped member countries." Many see the China-led AIIB as a rival to the U.S.-based World Bank. And Washington doesn't support it. But some U.S. allies including Britain, Germany, the Philippines and South Korea have agreed to join. A sign of China's growing economic clout, says James Bevan from CCLA. (SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) CCLA, CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER, JAMES BEVAN SAYING: "The Chinese investment bank is an important overall development as China wrestles with the challenge of achieving significant ongoing foreign investment in its markets. That said I do think that the critical issue for the moment is the overall growth profile of China which is clearly much slower than any investors had anticipated." Russia - the third largest shareholder in AIIB after China and India - is expected to be its first customer. It's looking for help to fund railway projects in the Arctic AIIB will start its operations in the second quarter of 2016. Russia's loan is expected to be approved within six months.