January 26, 2016 / 11:26 AM / 5 years ago

Thailand approves $1.47 bln budget to join China-led AIIB

BANGKOK, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Thailand’s cabinet approved a budget of 52.82 billion baht ($1.47 billion) on Tuesday to join the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) seen as a rival to the U.S.-led World Bank, a government spokesman said.

Despite opposition from Washington, U.S. allies including Australia, Britain, Germany and the Philippines have agreed to join the AIIB in recognition of China’s growing economic clout.

Thailand’s junta, known as the National Council for Peace and Order, approved Thailand becoming a founding member of the new international development bank in July 2014, two months after the military seized power following months of unrest.

Since then, Thailand’s military generals have sought to counterbalance the country’s ties with Washington and have launched a charm offensive towards China.

The Thai government will hold around 1.43 percent share of the bank, government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd told reporters.

Payment will start with five installments, each at 2.112 billion baht ($58.90 million), due by the end of 2019, he said.

The AIIB, launched this month by Chinese President Xi Jinping, aims to invest in infrastructure and connectivity. ($1 = 35.86 baht) (Reporting By Pracha Hariraksapitak; Additional reporting by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Writing by Pairat Temphairojana; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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