Conservatives call on Liberals to stop payments to Chinese infrastructure bank

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OTTAWA — The Conservatives are calling on the Liberal government to stop making payments to the Asian Infrastructure Bank in light of the ongoing detention and lack of transparency around the trials of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor in China.

The party's foreign-affairs critic Michael Chong says it's unacceptable that Canada would send about US$40 million to the China-led agency.

He says the Liberal government should use all of the tools at its disposal, including withholding the payment, to put pressure on Chinese authorities to stop the trials of the two Michaels and to release them from detention.

Global Affairs Canada and Finance Canada have not responded to several requests for information on whether the payment that's due this month has been made and whether Ottawa will withhold the payment to put pressure on China.

The government committed to contribute $256 million to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in 2017 and made payments of nearly US$40 million in each March of the last three years.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responded in December to a question from the opposition in the Senate saying that Canada will make its final two payments to the bank in March 2021 and March 2022 to complete its commitment.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 24, 2021.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

The Canadian Press