Chinese President Xi Jinping said the China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is an open initiative and all countries are welcomed to join the effort.

During the annual conference of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) in Boao, China, President Xi said the Chinese government is committed to vigorously promoting a system of regional financial cooperation and exploring a platform for exchanges and cooperation among Asian financial institutions.

“We will … advance complementary and coordinated development between the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and such multilateral financial institutions as the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank,” Xi said.

“The ‘Belt and Road’ and the AIIB are both open initiatives. We welcome all countries along the routes and in Asia, as well as our friends and partners around the world, to take an active part in these endeavors,” he said, referring to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiatives.

The AIIB, proposed by China last year aims to support infrastructure projects in the region. The China-initiated instution, however, received criticism especially from the United States, which claimed that the AIIB is China’s way of stomping off other global financial institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

But ADB President Takehiko Nakao, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde and WB Managing Director Sri Mulyani Indrawati said Sunday their institutions are ready to cooperate with the AIIB.

Most of AIIB’s regional members joined last year and China earlier announced a 31 March deadline for those who want to join as founding members.

The AIIB, which is expected to begin operations by the end of 2015, is formed to provide infrastructure project loans to developing countries.

Twenty-one countries, including China, India and Singapore, signed a memorandum of understanding in Beijing in October 2014 to build the AIIB. Six other nations, including Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, joined the body until Feb. 9, 2015. As agreed, Beijing will be the host city for the headquarters.