The China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), viewed by some as a rival to the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, was formally established on Friday, according to a statement issued by Beijing.

The United States and Japan – the world’s largest and third-largest economies, respectively – have notably declined to join the bank, which is expected to begin operations early next year, though others such as Australia, Germany and Britain will take part.

The bank’s establishment came after 17 funding members of the AIIB, which account for , ratified an agreement on the bank, state television quoted Finance Minister Lou Jiwei as saying.

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