The lender has 70 member countries, with another 27 expected to join later, more than the 68 participating in the much older Asian Development Bank, which counts the U.S. and Japan as its top shareholders. Yet the AIIB has approved only about $8 billion in funding so far, and some critics say it has few experts on staff.

Many projects so far have involved co-financing with the ADB and World Bank, and Jin said the lender is grateful for the “support and experience” they provided.

“Now we are developing our in-house capability,” he said, adding that the AIIB’s stand-alone financing will increase as it adds more personnel. The organisation aims to expand its staff by more than 20% to 280 by year-end.

But “co financing will remain an important field of endeavour” for development banks, Jin said. He noted that the lender has worked closely with the ADB and stressed his “very good personal relationship” with ADB President Takehiko Nakao.

Though Japan is not an AIIB member, “my understanding is that the Japanese government encourages Japanese institutions to work with us,” Jin said.

He again encouraged Tokyo to join, something that could help the lender bring in talent with much-needed expertise. “The door forever remains open,” he said.

The AIIB chief recently likened the lender and China’s Belt and Road Initiative to two engines on the same airplane, alarming critics that have accused the massive international infrastructure development program of loading down developing countries with debt.

Asked to elaborate on the metaphor, Jin said the two are different in terms of function and governance but “share the same objective of promoting connectivity.” The aircraft is the international community, he said.

As for the pilot, Jin emphasised the broad international membership of the AIIB and its staff. “International cooperation never ever has one pilot, represented by one country,” he said.

“Nobody dictates,” Jin said.