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Insights from former AIIB executive reveal Beijing’s influence within the bank

Canadian communications consultant Bob Pickard, known for whistleblowing allegations regarding Beijing’s substantial influence within the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), recently appeared before the House Special Committee on the Canada–People’s Republic of China (PRC) Relationship. On Dec. 11, Mr. Pickard provided insights into his role as the AIIB director general of communications and raised concerns about the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) influence within the multilateral bank, which led to his resigning abruptly from the position on June 14.

Mr. Pickard elaborated on the CCP’s presence, pointing to CCP members in influential roles at AIIB, including President Jin Liqun, who he identified as a CCP member and former Red Guard. He also raised concerns about discrepancies in messaging, where the PRC media promoted different narratives compared to the bank’s English messaging. This included their efforts to detach the AIIB from Beijing’s controversial Belt and Road Initiative.

Open about his anxieties concerning undue CCP influence before taking up his position, Mr. Pickard said he ultimately observed an unprecedented level of CCP activity within the bank after joining. This included a personal assistant who was a CCP member, allegedly reporting facts back to the president’s office. He also recounted the appointment of a new colleague known as “the new Party guy,” who arrived in 2022. Mr. Pickard described how this newcomer impacted the bank’s operations and security measures.

Regarding his resignations in May and then June 2022, Mr. Pickard stated that he chose to leave AIIB due to the CCP’s pervasive influence in the bank’s day-to-day functions and the projected negative impact. Despite the AIIB’s subsequent response to Mr. Pickard’s allegations, he remains wary of the bank and criticized the AIIB-provoked online campaigns against him.

Following Mr. Pickard’s revelations, Canada has heightened its probe into AIIB, including an indefinite freeze of its participation in the institution. This evaluation will consider various areas such as investments, governance, and environmental, social, and management frameworks.

Mr. Pickard’s testimony also prompted extensive discussions about Canada’s relationship with the AIIB and the bank’s operations, raising questions about Canada’s continuing participation in an institution entangled with Chinese government influence.

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