26 September 2023

CANADA: AIIB official flees China after quitting

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A Canadian officer of the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) said he had been advised to get out of China quickly after he resigned in protest over what he alleged was Chinese Communist Party influence over the AIIB.

The Bank’s former Global Communications Chief, Bob Pickard announced his resignation in a scathing social media post. Hours later the Canadian Government said it was freezing ties with the Bank while it probed the allegations.

Established in 2016 as a Chinese alternative to the World Bank and other Western-led multilateral lending institutions, the AIIB has 106 members worldwide, including Canada.

Mr Pickard (pictured) fled to Japan “as soon as possible” after tendering his resignation.

He said he had been advised not to set foot in China anytime soon.

“From a country where the two Michaels were kidnapped by the Government, we’re maybe a little more sensitive or concerned about such things,” he said, referring to the high-profile case of two Canadians detained in China for nearly three years from 2018-to-2021.

He did not say who advised him to flee.

China’s Embassy in Canada described Mr Pickard’s statements as “lies”.

The country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the AIIB adhered to “principles of openness, meritocracy and transparency” when recruiting and managing staff.

In a statement, the AIIB called Mr Pickard’s comments “baseless and disappointing.”

Mr Pickard said he did not believe the interests of Canada were served by the Bank.

“I felt the power of the [Communist] Party people interfered with our ability to clearly and transparently communicate,” he said.

“I feel the taxpayers of my country should not be financing this organisation which in the end will be of more benefit to China than any benefit to Canada.”

Canadian Minister for Finance, Chrystia Freeland said the country was freezing ties as it investigated the matter and did not rule out any outcome, a hint that Ottawa could pull out of the Bank which it officially joined in March 2018.

Ottawa, 18 June 2023

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