Critics slam oil takeover by Chinese

Calgary-based resource company Nexen has been taken over by a Chinese firm. (MIKE DREW/QMI AGENCY)

Calgary-based resource company Nexen has been taken over by a Chinese firm. (MIKE DREW/QMI AGENCY)

Daniel Proussalidis, Parliamentary Bureau

, Last Updated: 3:50 PM ET

The proposed takeover of Canadian energy company Nexen by the state-owned Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) has created instant new political controversy.

The $15.1 billion deal would see Nexen's oil production in Canada, the North Sea, and off the coast of Nigeria end up in hands of a company controlled by China's communist dictatorship, alarming Bejing critics.

"No rational nation would ever give up control strategic resources like that to a hostile foreign power," said Greg Autry, senior economist with American Jobs Alliance.

"You're talking about a firm directly owned by a government who is hostile to our principles of democracy and individual freedom and is preparing for war with the West." Industry Minister Christian Paradis hid from the media on Monday, but issued a statement from the safety of his office acknowledging the deal would be subject to federal review to see if it is of "net benefit" to Canada.

Under new rules, Paradis will be allowed to publicly explain a rejected deal after the fact, but that's not good enough for NDP industry critic Peter Julian.

"The only way to thoroughly evaluate whether this foreign investment is in the public interest is by putting into place an open, transparent and thorough public review," Julian said.

Paradis can also launch a national security review of the deal, but his statement makes no mention of one.

The Competition Bureau will conduct its own review.

Li Fanrong, CEO and president of CNOOC, presented a friendly face in a Monday teleconference, promising to set up a Canadian headquarters and continued "social investment." "We intend to be a local company as much as a global one," he said. "We are committed to maintaining all Nexen employees and it is our hope that they will stay and grow with us." Normally inclined to favour much-needed foreign investment in Canada's energy sector, Carleton Univeristy business professor Ian Lee, says he worries about involvement by CNOOC.

"They're operating under the instructions of the Government of China," Lee said. "We should be looking much more critically at state-owned enterprises because they're not playing by the ordinary rules of the game."

 


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