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Harper to visit China with FIPA now ratified

Harper in China

Stephen Harper will visit China next week (likely November 5-6) in advance of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing this coming November 10-11. He reportedly won’t stay for the summit given his intention to be in Canada for Remembrance Day.

His visit should be seen in the context of several key issues:

– The ratification on October 1 by the Harper government of the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA). Council of Canadians trade campaigner Scott Harris has written that in ratifying FIPA the Harper government ignored “widespread public opposition, parliamentary opposition from the NDP, Greens and even lukewarm Liberal criticism, an ongoing First Nations legal challenge, and even division at its own cabinet table and grassroots membership…”

– Chinese investment in the energy sector in this country. The Globe and Mail reports, “Canada was the destination for the largest-ever foreign investment in Chinese history, with the purchase of oil and gas company Nexen Inc. by CNOOC Ltd. …” In July 2012, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow commented, “The Harper government’s top priority is to expand tar sands production and make sure these oil companies have enough pipelines to get it onto the market, no matter what the environmental or health impacts. Harper is so desperate to do this that he is signing investment protection agreements with China and other countries that give foreign oil, gas and resource companies powerful legal tools to frustrate or block environmental or public health protections.”

– The push for a deal that would allow Canada greater access to trade in China’s currency. The Globe and Mail has noted, “Senior banking officials have said they expected such a deal to be signed in the course of a visit to Beijing by Mr. Harper — but others said it was unlikely to be completed if the prime minister did not come.” The Canadian Chamber of Commerce supports this deal. Its president says, “Chinese companies prefer trading in their own currency. We strongly believe that Canadian companies could sell more to China and potentially offer lower prices to Canadian consumers if they were able to do business in the renminbi.” The NDP also supports this move. Industry critic Peggy Nash writes, “With a more streamlined and efficient clearing process, our economy could grow the already vibrant trade relationship we enjoy with the world’s second largest economy.”

– The ongoing Occupy protests in Hong Kong against China’s refusal to allow ‘unwelcome’ candidates (those unfriendly to Beijing) in the 2017 election for the chief executive, the top political leader for the special administrative region of Hong Kong. On September 27, Barlow tweeted her solidarity with Occupy Central and the students seeking democracy in Hong Kong. The Harper government ratified the Canada-China FIPA on October 1, just as the still ongoing Occupy protests escalated in Hong Kong.

The Council of Canadians calls on voters to remember Harper’s ratification of FIPA, his approval of the Nexen takeover, his lack of meaningful support for the Occupy democracy movement in Hong Kong, and numerous other issues of concern at the time of the federal election expected on October 19, 2015.

Further reading
Harper wants to protect business, not human rights, on visit to China (February 2012 media release)
FIPA and the right to water in China (September 2014 blog)
Responding to campaigns opposing the Canada-China investment agreement (October 2012 blog by Harjap Grewal)
Is a free trade deal with China next? (April 2010 blog)