Saturday, September 29, 2012

Text of Agreement Between Canada and China for the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments

Agreement Between Canada and China for the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments -  Full Text

This has been tabled in the Parliament of Canada.  It also has to be ratified by the Chinese National People's Congress before coming into effect.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Bo's Expulsion is a Very Important Development

Bo Xilai's expulsion from the Party is very significant indeed. In contrast Deng Xiaoping retained his Party membership over 3 removals from office allowing for 3 comebacks to power. Bo will likely never be seen in public again.

It suggests that Bo will become the focus of a major Party-wide campaign. This has been the norm for high-profile people expelled from the Party in the past.  Expulsion of senior officials from the Party is a very serious and very rare political event. The fact that the Xinhua news release says Bo will be up for abuse of power and bribery suggests the possibility of very far reaching implications for others who are engaged in comparable corrupt practices.

So I take his expulsion as a promising development that could indicate that the 18th Party Congress may adopt meaningful reforms to bolster the Party's battered reputation with people in China and abroad.

Obviously it will infuriate many powerful people who will be exposed to serious charges. But the Party appears to be willing to risk instability instead of the continuing stagnation incurred by doing nothing meaningful and therefore suffering continuing corrosion of its legitimacy in the eyes of the people.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Rough and ready translation by me of article in today's Ming Pao about CNOOC-Nexen Human Rights Concerns

A Call to Grasp the Opportunity of Chinese Capital Purchasing Canadian Energy Enterprises 
Group Urges Ottawa to Take Advantage and Push China to Improve Human Rights

(Ming Pao Report) The Chinese National Off-Shore Oil Corporation (CNOOC)'s intention to purchase the Canadian energy corporation, Nexen, is currently undergoing a political assessment process. "The Canadian Coalition for Human Rights in China" more than a month ago send a letter to the Federal Minister of Industry who is responsible for this assessment process. It calls on him, in addition to examining the economic benefits, to make human rights policy one of the factors under consideration. But up to know the Coalition has received no response to this letter.

The Canadian Coalition on Human Rights in China, which represents 15 organizations concerned about human rights in China sent this letter to the office of the Minister of Industry, Christian Paradis on August 16. The letter makes reference to Article 20 "Factors Influencing Investment Assessment" of the "Canada Investment Act" whose content expresses the Coalition's stance: "Human rights should be a factor strongly weighted in the foreign investment assessment process."

The Coalition encourages the Government of Canada to grasp the opportunity presented by the deep interest by China to invest in Canada's energy enterprises, to at this time demand that China improve its addressing of human rights issues that have emerged at every level of Chinese society. The letter also makes reference to reports exposing CNOOC's oil extraction operations in Burma which have not been approved by local residents and which have caused very great damage to local villages. Those villagers who have participated in opposition to the oil extraction have been arrested by the Burmese military and put on trial. [I am using "Burma" here, but there is no distinction in Chinese between "Burma" and "Myanmar." In pinyin the name of that country has consistently been "Miandian."]

This letter was sent simultaneously to the office of Prime Minister Harper. But after more than a month it has not elicited any response from the PMO either. The Coalition decided the day before yesterday to make the letter public.. It very rapidly received a reaction from Jason Kenney, the Minister of Immigration: "Our Government has very clearly expressed that Canada-China relations require balanced development, to carry forward our common interests, such as trade and business, as well as our values, such as the importance that we place on human rights."

Kenney made the above statement the day before yesterday at a press conference in response to a reporter's question. He indicated that he is assured that Harper for a long time has expressed the same opinion on issue of balanced development. According to information obtained by the "Toronto Star," Harper is the key person in making the final decision on whether this transaction will be approved or not.

The Chairman of one organization that is part of the "The Canadian Coalition for Human Rights in China," "The Toronto Association for Support of the Democracy Movement in China," Guan Zhuo [Cheuk Kwan], yesterday indicated to this newspaper that Nexen has an excellent human rights record. It was one of the earliest Canadian companies to write a human rights policy. Therefore in assessing whether or not to sell it to the Chinese state-owned CNOOC, whether or not CNOOC has an excellent human rights record, and whether it can fully implement a human rights policy in future management of the enterprise should become a factor that is given significant weight in considerations.

Guan Zhuo indicated that he can understand that the Ministry of Industry will approach its assessment of this transaction from a commercial benefit perspective. But he believes that the Government should not only look at the money benefits. It should also include Canada's human rights values perspective in the assessment, "although the Chinese side has indicated that it will strictly respect Canadian law after it makes the purchase, but the Ambassador of China indicated the day before yesterday that human rights should not be brought into this commercial transaction." Therefore Guan Zhuo feels that in approving this transaction the Government of Canada must ensure that that a human rights policy will be very well implemented in future operations of Nexen.

The original Chinese report can be found here:

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

New ambassador to China pledges frank dialogue on security, human rights

New ambassador to China pledges frank dialogue on security, human rights

"He'll have close links right to the top, both with me and the prime minister, senior leadership of the public service and business communities here in Canada," Baird told reporters in his office on Parliament Hill, where the two posed for a photo-op.
The minister called the posting "an important political and security position in that part of the world."

Saturday, September 22, 2012

My Thoughts on the Chinese Ambassador's Interview on Front Page of Today's Globe and Mail

The interview is entitled "Canada-China free-trade pact touted" (

My observation: After 18 years of negotiations to achieve a Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection Agreement, the Chinese Ambassador now indicates that for Canada to obtain "guarantees that its companies will get greater access to investment and markets in China" that we now actually need to negotiate a comprehensive free trade agreement which "might take a few years, but less than a decade." Presumably in the meantime China intends to continue to widen its 4X trade disparity with Canada while interminable negotiations work to "address" Canada's concerns. And according to the Ambassador over this period Canada's concerns over allegations of widespread human rights abuse in China will also work themselves out through "improvement and development."

After 30 years of Chinese officials urging Western patience over trade and human rights concerns, this line of argument is starting to wear a bit thin. But clearly the Ambassador hopes to continue to play to Canadian naivete and gullibility for as long as it can be sustained.

Liberace-like the Chinese regime appears to be "laughing all the way to the bank."

An edited version of the above text appeared as letter to the Globe and Mail entitled "It's wearing thin" published on September 25:

I recommend this Editorial on Pitfalls of China Trade

@cburton001: Trade with caution Strong editorial in National Post on necessary measures to mitigate negative impacts of increasing trade with China

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Diplomacy has a human cost

@irbrodie: This morning, remembering all the diplomats who serve in dangerous posts.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I Am Speaking in Toronto Thursday Night

Thursday September 17
What does October’s Chinese Communist Party National Congress mean for China and the World?—The Canadian International Council’s Toronto branch presents this panel discussion. Panellists include Charles Burton, Brock University, and Jeremy Paltiel, Carleton University. 6:30-9 p.m., $15 members; $20 non-members. Aird & Berlis LLP, 181 Bay St., 18th floor, Toronto, Ont. 416-590-0630 or

Monday, September 10, 2012

Not cracking open the champagne on Canada-China FIPA just yet

The Agreement has now been signed by the President of China.  That has the effect of sending out a signal giving hope that China wants to deal fairly in foreign investment with Canada, so perhaps we should go easy on our concerns over CNOOC-Nexen.  But it is still subject to ratification by the National People's Congress.  Our experience with India might be instructive here:
From the DFAIT website (
"Canada and India announced the conclusion of negotiations towards a bilateral Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) on June 16, 2007 during the visit to Ottawa of India's then Minister of Commerce & Industry, Mr. Kamal Nath. Both sides agreed to carry out their respective procedures leading to formal signature and ratification of the agreement. However, during this process, in October 2009, India notified Canada that it had some concerns with the agreed text. Canada is committed to this important investment agreement and efforts to negotiate a resolution to these issues have been underway since that time so that the agreement can be completed and ratified as soon as possible."

But to me the larger issue is that we have not seen the negotiated text yet.  
Does it provide sufficient legal teeth to guarantees that Canadians will be treated fairly in the Chinese market? 
Is this an agreement that the Chinese central authorities can or will actually enforce?  
Will it help us to actually make some progress in the Chinese market?  

I wonder about such things.

Friday, September 07, 2012