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Canada Freezes Ties With AIIB After Claiming ‘Communist Rule’ | Bank News


Canada says it is freezing ties with the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) while it investigates claims by a former senior staffer that the institution is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland announced the move on Wednesday after the AIIB’s head of global communications, Canadian Bob Picard, resigned and criticized the bank as being “controlled by the Communist Party”.

Freeland said she wasn’t ruling out any findings that suggested Ottawa might pull out of a bank it formally joined in March 2018.

“The Government of Canada will immediately cease all government-led activities at the bank. I have directed the Ministry of Finance to conduct an immediate review of the allegations made and Canada’s participation in the AIIB,” Freeland told reporters.

The AIIB, established in 2016 to finance railways and other infrastructure, is seen by some as a Chinese rival to the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. It has 106 member governments, including most Asian countries plus Australia, Canada, Russia, France and the United Kingdom. Neither Japan nor the United States are members.

The AIIB rejected Pickard’s criticism, 58, as “baseless and disappointing” and said it was proud to represent staff of 65 different nationalities.

The Chinese embassy in Ottawa said the claims were “pure sensationalism and outright lies”.

Pickard, who has worked at the Beijing-based AIIB for 15 months, said on Twitter that, as a “patriotic Canadian,” resigning was his only option. He complained that the bank was controlled by “communist hackers” who were “like the KGB, Gestapo or Stasi from within” – the secret police of the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany and communist-era East Germany.

The bank “has one of the most toxic cultures imaginable,” Picard added. “I don’t think joining the AIIB is in our country’s interest.”

Canada arrested a senior Huawei executive on a U.S. warrant in December 2018, days after China arrested two Canadians and eventually charged them with espionage.

The men, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, were eventually released in 2021 after U.S. prosecutors dropped extradition proceedings.

“As the world’s democracies work to reduce our economic risk by limiting our strategic vulnerability to authoritarian regimes, we must also be clear about the ways in which those regimes wield influence around the world,” Freeland said in announcing the inquiry. AIIB.

‘ undue influence

It was Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who brought Canada into the AIIB, and the opposition Conservative Party has long demanded that Ottawa withdraw from it, saying it was a tool for Beijing to export authoritarianism.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police announced Tuesday that it is investigating allegations that China tried to intimidate federal Conservative MPs.

Canada accuses China of trying to interfere in its affairs through various schemes, including opening illegal police stations and meddling in elections. Beijing has denied the allegations.

According to the AIIB’s 2022 financial statements, the AIIB has assets of US$47.4 billion, and its president is Jin Liqun, a Chinese citizen. Its vice presidents include a Briton, a Russian, an Indian and a German.

Picard said he left China in a hurry because he feared for his safety because of what happened to the two Michaels.

He only made the announcement after arriving in Japan.

He told the AFP news agency in Tokyo that the bank mainly lends to countries involved in China’s controversial “Belt and Road” initiative and that China exerts “undue” influence over various aspects of its business.

“It is a resource to achieve the geopolitical goals of the People’s Republic of China … In practice, I believe it is in China’s interest,” he told AFP.

In 2017, then-deputy president Thierry de Longuemar defended the bank against similar allegations.

“China’s desire is not to create a new Chinese government tool, but to demonstrate its ability to push for a truly international institution in China,” he said.

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