Canadian Executive Quits Beijing-Led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Citing CCP Control

by EditorL

The sign of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is pictured at its headquarters in Beijing, China July 27, 2020. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

By Isaac Teo

The global communications chief for the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has announced his resignation, saying in a statement on June 14 that the bank is being controlled by “Communist Party hacks” and that Canada’s best interests are not served by being a member.

“As a patriotic Canadian, this was my only course,” said executive Bob Pickard of his resignation in a series of tweets Wednesday.

“The [AIIB] is dominated by Communist Party members and also has one of the most toxic cultures imaginable. I don’t believe that my country’s interests are served by its AIIB membership.”

Reacting to the development, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland said Canada will cease all activities with the bank for the time being, and that the government will investigate Pickard’s allegations.

“The Canadian government will also discuss this issue with its allies and partners who are members of the bank. China, as the world’s second-largest economy, needs to play a role in solving global problems which affect every country,” Freeland said.

Pickard, who took on the role of director general of communications with the AIIB in March 2022, said the “Communist Party hacks hold the cards” at the China-based bank, and that “they deal with some board members as useful idiots.”

“The reality of power in the bank is that it’s CCP from start to finish,” he tweeted, referring to the Chinese Communist Party. “I believe that my Government should not be a member of this PRC [People’s Republic of China] instrument.”

‘Authoritarian Model of Governance’

Reacting to the development, Conservative foreign affairs critic Michael Chong said Pickard’s resignation “has confirmed what Conservatives have long said” about the AIIB.

“It’s a tool of the Beijing to export its authoritarian model of governance throughout the Indo-Pacific region,” he said on Twitter. He also reiterated his party’s position that the government withdraw from bank and “repatriate the public funds invested.”

Established by the CCP on Christmas Day 2015, the AIIB was billed as the first global multilateral financial institution, operating as an alternativeto the American and European-led World Bank and International Monetary Fund for funding infrastructure projects in countries throughout Asia, Latin America, and Africa.

Chinese experts have warned that Beijing’s aim in founding an international development bank is to pivot the world economy toward the communist state and away from the United States.

Starting off with an initial 57 member states, the bank managed to entice countries across five continents, increasing its membership base to over 100 states in less than five years as of July 2020, according to Baidu, a Beijing-controlled Chinese information portal.

The path for Western countries to join the AIIB against the wishes of the United States was paved by the UK, which became a founding member of the bank in 2015.

In 2017, the Trudeau government contributed US$995 million(approximately C$1.28 billion) to join the bank for a 1.07 percent stake.

In Europe, Italy, France and Germany likewise spent considerable amounts to obtain voting rights from two to about five percent since joining as members.

China remains the largest shareholder of AIIB with a 30 percent stake, and a 26 percent voting rights, enabling it to have veto power over major decisions, which require 75 percent consensus.

‘Secret Police’

Pickard said in his tweets that the CCP “runs the joint,” although he didn’t really notice it when he first started.

“It’s only after working there for many months that I became aware of how that’s where the true power is concentrated inside the bank – the CCP crowd who operate like a secret police,” he wrote.

“I saw with my own eyes the extent to which Communist Party hacks occupy key positions in the bank, like an in-house KGB or Gestapo or Stazi.”

The AIIB issued a statement shortly after Pickard’s announcement.

“Mr. Pickard’s recent public comments and characterization of the bank are baseless and disappointing,” said the bank. “We are proud of our multilateral mission and have a diverse international team representing 65 different nationalities.”

Global Affairs Canada has previously warned that Beijing’s motive for establishing the AIIB is to use its economic clout to export its authoritarian governance model around the world.

The department’s 2019 briefing papers later released by the Commons Canada-China relations committee in 2020 described the bank and Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative as the means of pushing that model.

In February 2021, the Commons finance committee, then chaired by former Liberal MP Wayne Easter, released a report recommending that Canada withdraw from investing in the AIIB.

In March of that year, then Conservative leader Erin O’Toole called onPrime Minister Justin Trudeau to cancel a US$40 million payment to the bank after Beijing’s arbitrary detention of Canadian citizens Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig.

Gu Feng, Omid Ghoreishi, Peter Wilson, Shane Miller and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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