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:

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