Friday, September 21, 2012

The Tories should nix takeover of energy company Nexen by China’s CNOOC

The proposed takeover of Nexen Inc. by China’s CNOOC Ltd. should not be allowed to proceed. While the $15-billion offer by China’s National Offshore Oil Company to buy Calgary-based oil producer Nexen must seem overwhelmingly tempting to shareholders of Nexen, I do not believe it’s in Canada’s best long-term national interests.

Personally, I don’t trust the Chinese government. And their recent moves against Japan in a dispute over ownership of  the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea does nothing to dispel my mistrust. And before the accusations of xenophobia roll in, consider the following.

From an early age, I went to school with classmates who were of many cultural and racial backgrounds, with about 5% European (or nearly so), 5% Indian or Pakistani ancestry, 5% Arab (Syria/Lebanon), 20% Chinese ancestry, with the rest being of African ancestry (or nearly so).

I learned that friends came in all shapes, sizes and colours. Decades after leaving school, I still count, at least, one of my Chinese schoolmates as a friend. I was raised to be “colour blind,” and remain so to this day.

However, there is a gulf of difference between Chinese people and the Chinese government, which was not chosen by a majority of the people and which is not accountable to its people for its policies at home or abroad.

I have found Chinese people to be diligent, hardworking, honest people who excel at academics and are excellent merchants and professionals—just the sort of characteristics most Canadians—myself included—admire. I, however, hold no such admiration towards the government of China.

As one can readily see from this Reuters story, Japanese firms say China protests affect business plans, China will not hesitate to use its economic/commercial clout to assist it in furthering foreign—sometimes overtly aggressive—initiatives.

China’s economy, as we all know, is second in size only to that of the United States, the world’s largest. China and Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, have total two-way trade of around $345 billion. Yet some experts believe anti-Japan sentiment will prompt Japanese firms to rethink longer-term investments in China.

If one of their closest neighbours cannot trust them, who are we to differ. And Japan is not alone in their distrust of China. According to The Economist, “the summer has seen a succession of maritime disputes involving China, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines.” Consider that after years of supporting neighbouring Vietnam against the United States, the People’s Republic of China invaded its former ally in 1979 in what became known as the Sino–Vietnamese War (aka the Third Indochina War).

History reminds us that China traditionally has a very long memory. It has experienced, what it sees as, 150 years of humiliation from nearby nations like Japan and those further away such as the United Kingdom and its current rival, the United States.

The People’s Republic of China moves and acts strategically, and sets objectives that are decades into the future. Purchasing Nexen is but one move in many towards the main prize, Suncor Energy Inc., Canada’s biggest player in our strategic oil reserves in the Alberta oil sands.

China is an imminent danger to world peace, and gaining a foothold in Canada’s strategic resource sector will assist that aggressive nation in their expansionist policies. Our government should not act the part of “useful idiot,” by approving the Nexen takeover.



  1. How about you buy my Nexen shares instead of raping them?

  2. I don't know if the Nexen deal is beneficial for Canada or not - I'll leave that to the "experts" to deal with.

    I am also not an apologist for the Chinese *government* and personally condemn the counterproductive and destructive riots in China right now (I also can't stand Mao Zedong and his legacy).

    However, you do realize that China's actions in this so-called "Senkaku" island dispute stem from larger historical context? These islands were taken from China after WWII -- so this issue isn't just about a tiny island; it's anger over mass murder, mass raping of "comfort women," mass destruction that Japan has NEVER apologized for.

    In some ways, the crimes committed by the Japanese army in WWII were even worse than the Nazis. Horrifically, the Nazis usually shot or gassed their victims. However, as I've learn from a university course in Canada, the Japanese often raped their victims, made family members rape each other, stuck explosives and other crude things in women's genitals, and many other things I do not want to think about.

    Unlike Germany which has made genuine efforts to recognize past mistakes, the Japanese government has never apologized or even acknowledged these crimes. Instead, they whitewash their school textbooks and visit shrines of war criminals.

    How can one just blindly support Japan over this dispute? Of course, the Japan of today is much reformed than the the Japanese of a century ago. However, if this is true, why have they not apologized to the victims of their war crimes? Germany has ceremonies and memorials to honour their war victims; Japan has ceremonies and memorials to honour their war criminals.

    Historically, many Asian countries have been wary of Japan because in previous centuries, there were multiple invasion attempts of Korea and China, and they also had to deal with the nuisance of Japanese pirates who pillaged villages. So the heavy tension over "Senkaku" islands, or Dokdo Island with South Korea, are essentially "proxies" over unresolved history.

    1. Anon 3:48pm,

      So the Senkaku islands dispute is part of China's attempt to settle scores going back over half a century to WW II? This supports my point that China is a grave threat to peace over its spurious territorial claims in both the East China Sea and the South China Sea.

      For the record, Japan established a legal claim to the islands in 1895, after determining that they were uninhabited for 10 years. The islands then became part of the Nansei Shoto islands—part of the Ryukyu islands which are in the modern-day Okinawa prefecture. Under the 1951 Treaty of San Francisco, the Nansei Shoto islands came under US trusteeship and were then returned to Japan in 1971, under the Okinawa reversion deal.

  3. Oooo! The big bad Chinese boogey man is coming after us. Once upon a time this country felt it could take on the world; now we cower like frightened children at the mere mention of China. For all our existence, Canada has lived cheek by jowl with the most powerful nation the world has ever seen. Our history is one of a constant struggle against U.S. imperialism whether on the battlefield or on the economic front. And you know something...we seem to have done just fine.
    Now, I'm not so naive as to believe the Chinese play by the same kind of rules as does the U.S., but we do well to remember that our powerful southern neighbour did not hesitate to change the rules, or make new ones when it suited their interests. But we persevered and punched above our weight and, I dare say, we seem to have come out ahead.
    It must also be remembered that while we were dealing with the Americans we did so when there was no where else to go. We had a one market economy. Today, in any dealings we have with the Chinese we have greater leverage than we did back then. The U.S. and many other nations want what we have so we are no longer beholden to any one market or country to sell our goods. We now have that leverage that we lacked before.
    So to all the Chicken-Littles and nay sayers who would have Canada hide under a blanket at the mere mention of China I say "grow a set" folks. We can take on all comers and come out ahead, but only if we shake off this fear of stepping out into the world.
    Powell Lucas