China and 21 other Asian nations have signed on to a new international bank for Asia opposed by Washington as an unnecessary rival to established institutions such as the World Bank.

Representatives signed a memorandum of understanding Friday at the Great Hall of the People in the heart of Beijing to establish the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank

The bank aims to fund the construction of roads, railways, power plants and telecommunications networks that global finance officials say are needed to keep the region's economies humming along.

Those taking part included regional economic powers India and Qatar. Absent were close U.S. allies South Korea and Australia.

China proposed the bank a year ago and has said it will provide most if not all of the initial $50 billion in capital.