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Canada cuts ties with Asian infrastructure bank on claims of Chinese interference

Canada cuts ties with Asian infrastructure bank on claims of Chinese interference
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Geert Vanden Wijngaert / Pool)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government stopped Canada’s work with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank while it investigates claims the institution faces substantial interference from the Chinese government.

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

The move comes as Trudeau’s government fends off criticism over its handling of alleged Chinese interference in recent Canadian election campaigns. Freeland made her announcement hours after the resignation of the bank’s global head of communications, Bob Pickard, who is Canadian.

“As a patriotic Canadian, this was my only course,” Pickard wrote on Twitter. “The bank 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.”

A spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in Canada said in a statement that the comments were purely “a sensational publicity stunt and a complete lie”. The AIIB said in a statement that Pickard’s remarks were “baseless and disappointing”, adding that it was “proud” of its multilateral approach.

The bank, which is headquartered in Beijing, was established in 2016 with the goal of “investing in sustainable infrastructure in Asia and beyond,” according to its website. It says it has so far invested in 221 projects worth $42-billion. 

Canada applied to join the AIIB in 2016 and formally entered the institution in 2018. As of 2019, it was dedicated to a 1% membership in the bank that would commit it to a stake worth $995-million. DM


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