Britain urged to freeze ties with AIIB – China’s answer to the World Bank
Britain’s representative on the bank’s board is Sir Danny Alexander, the former Chief Secretary to the Treasury
The Government is being ‘played for fools’ and must freeze ties with Beijing’s answer to the World Bank, according to a top official who left the organisation over allegations it was controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.
Bob Pickard recently resigned as communications chief for the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which the British taxpayer funds to the tune of £2.5 billion, claiming it was ‘dominated’ by Party apparatchiks.
The Beijing-based lender finances projects in developing countries – many of them allied to China.
But the Government’s ties with the AIIB have become increasingly controversial as fears grow about Beijing’s expansionist policies, its involvement in key UK industries such as telecoms and nuclear and, latterly, concerns about ‘Chinese spies’ in Westminster.
The UK’s involvement with the AIIB dates back to David Cameron’s coalition between 2010 and 2015, which was keen to curry favour with the Chinese, viewing them as potentially lucrative trade partners.
Britain’s representative on the bank’s board is Sir Danny Alexander, the former Chief Secretary to the Treasury in Cameron’s government.
Pickard, who is Canadian, told The Mail on Sunday that UK membership of the AIIB ‘makes China look good’ but the West ‘shouldn’t sign up for that’.
AIIB employees like Alexander, he added, were ‘feather-bedded ex-pats in highly compensated positions’ who enjoyed ‘a good living’ but were only there to give the bank credibility and act as ‘window-dressing’.
‘They are being used by the bank for the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda purposes,’ he added.
‘They have co-opted many useful idiots. We have to open our eyes to this reality. We’re being played for fools.’
Canada has paused its membership of the AIIB while it investigates Pickard’s claims. Asked if the UK should do the same, Pickard said: ‘Everyone has to look in the mirror, connect the dots and decide for themselves.’
The AIIB has more than 100 member nations – including Russia – and is run by Jin Liqun, formerly of the Communist Red Guards.
Western nations including the US and Japan have declined to join the bank, which counts China as its largest shareholder.
Last night Lord Alton of Liverpool, a crossbench peer who has been banned from China, called on Britain to review it membership of the bank.
He said: ‘It is reprehensible to be oiling the wheels of organisations linked to this totalitarian regime and lining their pockets with UK taxpayers’ money. The AIIB is basically a state-linked bank funding projects which further the interests of the Chinese Communist Party.’
A recent report by Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee found it was ‘possible’ Alexander’s appointment to the AIIB board – and Cameron’s role at a £1 billion China-UK investment fund – ‘were in some part engineered by the Chinese state to lend credibility to Chinese investment, as well as to the broader China brand’.
One of the projects funded by the AIIB involves a firm with links to alleged abuses of Uyghur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang province.
A Treasury spokesman said the AIIB’s internal review found Pickard’s allegations were ‘unsubstantiated’. ‘We will continue to work with the AIIB and partners to support robust governance and processes at the AIIB,’ he added.
The AIIB and Alexander were contacted for comment.