Canada will apply to join the China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Ottawa's finance department said Wednesday, in a coup for Beijing after Washington tried to dissuade its allies from signing up.

"Canada is always looking for ways to create hope and opportunity for our middle class as well as for people around the world," Finance Minister Bill Morneau said in a statement issued in Beijing. "Membership in the AIIB is an opportunity to do just that."

The Beijing-based lender has been viewed by some as a rival to the World Bank and the Philippines-based Asian Development Bank, which was founded in 1966.