AIIB’s (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank) Canadian global communication director Bob Pickard, announced his resignation from the post on Twitter, on June 14, 2023, adding that the resignation was due to the bank being ‘dominated by Communist Party members and also has one of the most toxic cultures imaginable’, further stating that the membership of AIIB does not fit Canada’s national interest.
In response to the tweet that received massive attention with 1.4 million views, the AIIB responded officially through a statement, first recognised and thanking Bob’s work since March 2022, yet then emphasised that Bob’s claim is ‘baseless and disappointing’, as the team carry on its multilateral mission with 106 members since 2016.
Following Bob’s comment on the clash of national interest and the AIIB, Canada Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland responded on 14 June 2023 that the country will be freezing its ties with the bank after an investigation on allegations made by Bob, but did not comment on any possible further actions regarding relations with the bank, which Cana have been a member since 2018. Latest, the AIIB released a statement on 15 June 2023 to follow up, welcoming Canada to undergo its investigations and reviews, while the organization will be cooperating fully to ensure transparency, as reassured by Luger Schuknecht, Vice president and Corporate Secretary of the AIIB, while the Bank will also undergo an internal review on itself, focusing on Bank’s governance frameworks, policies, and so.
Founded in 2016, based in Beijing, the AIIB was introduced by China with 57 initial members, as President Xi Jinping suggest having a Chinese alternative for an international lending institution. The Bank set goals to aid countries, helping them to develop better and more sustainable infrastructures from regionally throughout Asia to International level cooperation, with customised investment solutions to different states to help countries meet international standard objectives. The bank has approved 221 projects, approving a total funding of roughly 42 billion USD for countries around the world for projects like transport and energy.
While the AIIB claimed that it maintains its mandate to be an apolitical multilateral lender, upholding neutrality and will not be oriented by geopolitical crisis and disputes, as its current president Jin Liqun confirmed on March 31, 2023, the organization is commonly seen as representing a rivalry between the two great powers, China and the US, as it was proposed by Xi since 2014. The US and major allies like Australia and Britain have urged countries to rethink membership and have challenged the institution’s standards of government back in 2015, Reuters reported.
More specifically, bilateral relations between Canada and China have worsened greatly in recent years, with incidents like the Extradition case of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s CFO, that caused rounds of hostage diplomacy in 2020. Canada has also accused China of several attempts to interfere an internal affairs, such as setting up illegal foreign police stations to pressurise exiles and expatriates that have flown away to escape charges. The dispute with AIIB, for now, will leave the two’s relationship more frosty.
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