Indonesia seeks major role in Chinese-led infrastructure bank

China's President Xi Jinping (front C) guides guests at the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank launch ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing October 24, 2014. REUTERS/Takaki Yajima/Pool

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia wants to play a major role in a new Chinese-led Asian infrastructure bank, with at least the vice-president’s position reserved for the Southeast Asian country, the finance minister said.

The $50 billion Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), expected to start operations by the end of the year, is attracting a growing list of countries from Britain to India to New Zealand.

Under President Joko Widodo, Indonesia is expected to be one of the main beneficiaries of the bank as it seeks significant funding to build new roads, ports and bridges in the vast archipelago.

“We are fighting to get a position in the AIIB ... because most likely we will be the biggest client,” Finance Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro told reporters late on Wednesday.

“I have been lobbying China in regards to who will be the bank’s host, the positions, shareholders and projects.”

Jakarta is also vying with Beijing to host the AIIB headquarters.

However, Chinese Deputy Finance Minister Shi Yaobin said on Wednesday it had already been agreed the bank would have its headquarters in Beijing.

At least 35 countries will join the AIIB by the deadline of March 31, the bank’s interim chief, Jin Liqun, said on Sunday.

The United States, worried about China’s growing diplomatic clout, has questioned whether the AIIB will have sufficient standards of governance and environmental and social safeguards.

Reporting by Cindy Silviana; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Writing by Randy Fabi; Editing by Alan Raybould