Canada should stay out of AIIB
During a recent visit to China, the PM announced his intention to bring Canada into the Chinese-controlled Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). This is an extremely bad idea.
China is an influential global player. Canada cannot ignore China, and we should seek collaboration in ways that advance Canadian values and Canadian interests. But we should also be cautious and strategic when dealing with a foreign government that has a very different set of values and interests.
Part of China’s strategic play is to set up its own international institutions to rival the influence of western democracies and to set up trading arrangements which protect its substandard approach to human rights, the environment, etc.
The AIIB is China’s response to the World Bank. Like the World Bank, it provides loans for infrastructure projects in developing countries. Unlike the World Bank, it lacks adequate standards for human rights, anti-corruption, and environmental and social impact. Effectively it is a foreign policy tool of the Chinese government, seeking partnerships with countries who do not appreciate the stringent requirements that the World Bank imposes.
Now, Canada is joining the AIIB, putting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars into an institution designed to advance China’s foreign policy objectives. Why would we do such a thing?
We don’t know yet exactly how much membership in the AIIB will cost us. Joining cost the Australians over $700 million, and they got less than four per cent of the shares.
Meanwhile, the PM is seeking to begin the conversation about creating a bilateral trade agreement with China. I am generally in favour of trade deals, but this is the wrong deal to be pursuing under the circumstances.
When President Obama chose to place a major emphasis on completing the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal (TPP), it was for strategic, as well as economic reasons. He wanted to ensure that democracies, like Japan, Canada, Australia, and the U.S., would set the rules for trade in the Asia-Pacific region and that we would set those rules in a way that reflects our values on human rights, environmental protection, and so on.
The TPP, a regional trade deal that does not include China, would ensure that we, not they, are setting the rules.
China obviously does not want this. They would rather control the terms of trade, likely through bilateral trade deals with individual countries in the region.
Since we know well where our respective interests lie, it is baffling to me that Trudeau is playing to Chinese interests. He has been decidedly cold to TPP, while quite keen on a bilateral deal with China. But a bilateral trade deal between Canada and China would not contain anywhere near the standards and protections in TPP.
Canada’s government should be working cooperatively with our allies to advance Canadian interests and values, while also protecting taxpayers. It is disappointing that, when it comes to activity in the Asia-Pacific, our government is positioning us on the wrong side of history.
Garnett Genuis is the member of Parliament for Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan. He can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 780-467-4944. His office is located in the Park Place Professional Centre, Unit No. 214. Genuis was first elected in October 2015.
Published: Thursday, September 8, 2016