Bob Picard, who until recently was head of international communications at the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in Beijing, has resigned and left China in a hurry. “Members of the Communist Party control the bank,” Picard writes. on Twitter. And he adds: “I saw with my own eyes how the chiefs of the Communist Party occupy key positions in the bank, such as the KGB, Gestapo or Stasi.”
At the same time, the Canadian government has frozen relations with the bank, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland announced on Wednesday. There will be an investigation into ties with the Chinese Communist Party. This investigation could lead to Canada’s complete withdrawal from the bank.
China established the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in 2016 as an international alternative to the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The bank focuses on international infrastructure projects and categorically wants to be an international institution. China founded the bank in part out of dissatisfaction with China’s limited power position in the Asian Development Bank, a similar institution in which the United States and Japan together play a dominant role with more than a quarter of the shares. The director of this bank has always been Japanese.
The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is based in Beijing, and its top chairman is banker and former vice finance minister Jin Liqun. He, like all high-ranking officials in China, is a member of the CCP. In addition to China, more than a hundred countries are participating, including the Netherlands and Canada. Japan and the United States did not become members, in part because of doubts about the form of government.
fled to Tokyo
Picard says he fled to Tokyo on Wednesday because he feared for his safety. That was after he expressed concern about what he described as the CCP hack of the bank. He also wrote on Twitter that “as a patriot of Canada” he had no choice but to leave Beijing.
Referring to the Chinese Communist Party, he said against the financial times In Tokyo: “These people are like an invisible government inside a bank, and I can’t be a part of that,” Picard said. “I don’t want to be a useful idiot.” He worked in the bank for 15 months.
“The recent public comments and characterization of the bank are unfounded and disappointing,” the bank said in a statement. “We are proud of our multilateral mission and our diverse international team.”
It is plausible that CCP already plays an (increasingly dominant) role within the bank. On the instructions of the CCP, this is the case with all Chinese companies and institutions. Moreover, in the case of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, it is an important bank as a Chinese experiment in creating credible international institutions, and is therefore closely watched by the CCP.
against American hegemony
The Chinese Communist Party believes that many international organizations are overly dominated by the United States and other Western players. It is not so much international that Western norms and values dominate.
The Chinese Communist Party wants to put an end to this domination and is pursuing a two-track policy to this end. On the other hand, the Chinese Communist Party is committed to increasing Chinese influence in organizations such as the United Nations. The idea is that UN bodies vote more often with China and less with what China calls “a small, outdated club of Western countries that still want to have the upper hand”.
In addition, China is creating new international bodies such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and putting plans into motion such as the New Silk Road, or the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), to increase its international influence. In China, the state is increasingly merging with the CCP, and with a bank such as AIIB, the influence of the CCP’s international policy is also growing.
Western countries may end up participating in a bank like AIIB, no matter how good the projects themselves are. It contributes to the spread of international systems of governance that are established and dominated by the Chinese Communist Party.
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