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Asian Infrastructure Bank: No, the CCP does not dominate us. We checked! (Really?)

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The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) recently conducted an internal review to address mounting allegations of Communist Party influence within its ranks. However, the assertion that the bank is not dominated by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been met with widespread skepticism and disbelief. Many find it hard to accept that an institution founded and funded by China, with significant voting power held by the CCP, can claim to be free from political interference. It is in fact ridiculous.

Former communications chief Bob Pickard’s public resignation added fuel to the fire, as he vehemently stated that the AIIB is a puppet of the CCP, established explicitly to carry out the party’s bidding. He described the work culture within the bank as “spectacularly poisonous.” Pickard’s claims strike a chord with those who question the credibility and independence of the AIIB.

In response to Pickard’s allegations, the AIIB swiftly launched a review. However, the credibility of this internal investigation is questionable, as it was conducted by the bank itself, raising concerns about bias and lack of transparency. Pickard dismissed the review as a “joke” and likened it to a “kangaroo court,” suggesting that it was merely a superficial attempt to downplay the CCP’s dominance.

It is difficult to overlook the fact that China, the bank’s largest donor, holds a significant stake and effectively wields veto power over major decisions. Furthermore, the AIIB’s leadership positions are primarily occupied by Chinese nationals, including individuals with ties to the Chinese Finance Ministry. These factors contribute to the perception that the bank is heavily influenced by the CCP.

The AIIB’s review claimed to have found “no evidence” of Communist Party interference, but critics argue that such evidence may be difficult to uncover due to the secretive nature of party membership. In China’s competitive landscape, party affiliation has long been considered a prerequisite for career advancement, particularly within government agencies and state-owned enterprises. Under the leadership of Xi Jinping, the CCP has intensified its efforts to expand its visibility and influence, including in the private sector. It is plausible to assume that party members hold influential positions within the AIIB, shaping its decision-making processes behind closed doors.

While the AIIB maintains that staff membership of any political party does not interfere with performance, it is important to question the extent to which dissenting voices can truly be heard within an institution that relies on CCP support and funding. The concept of transparency, so often emphasized by the AIIB, seems elusive when applied to the inner workings of the bank and the extent of the CCP’s influence.

Pickard’s allegations of a “toxic work culture” within the AIIB cannot be disregarded either. While the bank acknowledged certain challenges in building the desired work culture, it largely dismissed Pickard’s claims. However, the testimonies of current and former foreign employees who have experienced the bank’s operations firsthand cannot be easily dismissed. Their accounts provide a counter-narrative to the AIIB’s attempt to paint a picture of harmony and professionalism.

The fallout from Pickard’s resignation has strained relations between Canada and China, prompting Canada to suspend its government-led activity at the AIIB and launch an independent review of its membership. This response underscores the seriousness of the concerns raised and the need for a thorough examination of the bank’s operations and its relationship with the CCP.

As the controversy unfolds, it remains crucial to question the AIIB’s claim of independence from the CCP. The internal review, conducted by the bank itself, lacks the impartiality and transparency necessary to fully address the concerns raised. Skepticism persists regarding the decision-making processes and the extent to which the CCP’s influence shapes the bank’s operations. Only through an external, comprehensive, and impartial investigation can the AIIB hope to restore trust and dispel doubts surrounding its alleged domination by the Communist Party.

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