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.