The Canadian delegation in China is doing all it can to get on their host country’s good side. After successfully negotiating for previously announced canola oil restrictions to be put on hold, they announced that Canada is applying for membership in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
Initiated by China, the multinational development bank has been active for only eight months. With 57 current members – including Brazil, Russia, India, South Africa, the UK, and various European countries – the bank aims to stimulate multinational growth by funding critical Asian-Pacific infrastructure projects.
Barring complications, Canada will be the first North American country to join the group, according to Finance Minister Bill Morneau. “Canada is always looking for ways to create hope and opportunity for our middle class as well as for people around the world, and membership in the AIIB is an opportunity to do just that,” he said.
Canada’s application was well received by the bank’s president, Liqun Jin, who said that it “affirms the way this new bank is being run.” He went on to say that the request would be dealt with “expeditiously.”
The US and Japan have not applied to join, making them the only Group of Seven countries to not do so.
Stephen Harper’s conservatives opted out of the first round of AIIB membership because of “worries that the new organization would undermine existing institutions” such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, according to the University of British Columbia Institute of Asian Research’s Paul Evans.
However, Evans acknowledges that the AIIB could offer “a potential link to Chinese players with interests in trans-Pacific connections,” as it already works with other global institutions to co-finance projects. “It’s a very good investment for Canadians.”
David Mulroney, former Canadian ambassador to China and senior fellow at Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs, wonders about that.
He noted that Canada has helped shape many international institutions “by insisting on high standards of probity, transparency and adherence to the rule of law,” three measures that he says China consistently falls short on. “Our flattery, though delivered late, will probably get us some small reward, but at a cost to us in terms of our values and our standards.”
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