Canada announced on August 31 that it is applying for membership in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), making it the first North American nation to do so. AIIB president Jin Liqun, said of the news, “[it] shows [Canada’s] confidence in the strong foundations the bank has built in our first few months.” The announcement coincided with a visit to China by Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau, whose approach to China has been described as more pragmatic than his predecessors.
The China Daily described the decision as “better late than never,” in a jab designed to draw a distinction between those countries who joined early and/or as founding members and those coming onboard later. The decision makes the U.S. and Japan the only remaining G7 members outside of the AIIB. China’s state-controlled media has been quick to characterize the decision as demonstrative of the “weakening influence” of the U.S. over its allies and as emblematic of the failure of the Trans Pacific Partnership.
The decision comes following a veiled threat from AIIB at its first annual meeting in June that holdout states are advised to begin the membership process before a September 30 deadline. The risk factors associated with the Beijing-led bank, however, have not been properly communicated by those concerned about the end result of its agenda. These include not only environmental, corruption and social concerns, but also strategic and security related issues tied into China’s intensions for the region.