Canada freezes ties with AIIB after ‘communist dominance’ claims

Canada has said it is freezing ties with the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) while it investigates claims by a former senior member of staff that the institution is dominated by the Chinese Communist Party.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland announced the move on Wednesday, after Canadian Bob Pickard, the AIIB’s global communications director, resigned from his job and criticised the bank as “dominated by the Communist Party”.

Freeland said she did not rule out any outcome of the investigation, a hint that Ottawa could pull out of a bank it officially joined in March 2018.

“The government of Canada will immediately halt all government-led activity at the bank. And I have instructed the Department of Finance to lead an immediate review of the allegations raised and of Canada’s involvement in the AIIB,” Freeland told reporters.

The election interference. Beijing has denied the allegations.

The AIIB has $47.4bn in assets, according to the bank’s 2022 financial statement, and is headed by its president, Jin Liqun, a Chinese national. Its vice presidents include a Briton, a Russian, an Indian and a German.

Pickard said he left China hastily because he was concerned for his safety, after what had happened to the two Michaels.

He only posted his announcement when had arrived in Japan.

Speaking to the Agence France Presse (AFP) news agency from Tokyo, he said the bank directed lending primarily to countries involved in China’s controversial Belt and Road Initiative, and that the CCP wielded “undue” influence over every aspect of its operations.

“It’s a resource to the geopolitical goals of the PRC (People’s Republic of China) … in practice, I believe it serves China’s interest,” he told AFP.

In 2017, then-vice president Thierry de Longuemar defended the bank against similar accusations.

“China’s wish isn’t to create a new instrument of the Chinese state, it is to demonstrate its ability to promote a truly international institution based in China,” he said.

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