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Nexen Takeover: ‘Net Benefit’ to Canada; What Benefit to Human Rights?

    December 07, 2012

    Reacting to the announcement that the federal government has approved the takeover of the Canadian oil company Nexen Inc. by Chinese state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation, members of the Canadian Coalition on Human Rights in China expressed grave disappointment that serious and pressing human rights considerations do not appear to have played any significant role in the government’s decision.

    “The government has concluded that the deal is of ‘net benefit’ to Canada,” said Cheuk Kwan of the Toronto Association for Democracy in China.  “But there is no indication that concerns about CNOOC’s human rights record or, more broadly, the Chinese government’s own continuing and longstanding poor human rights record were taken into account in any meaningful way.”

    The Coalition noted that there have been credible allegations that CNOOC has been associated with human rights violations in Tibet and Myanmar (Burma) and also with respect to Falun Gong practitioners employed by the company.  Nexen, to the contrary, has a long record of human rights leadership in the corporate sector, both nationally and internationally.  The Chinese government itself continues to be responsible for widespread and systematic human rights violations throughout the country.

    "Even the Revised Guidelines for Investments by State-Owned Enterprises, announced today, fail to incorporate human rights considerations,” said Carole Samdup of the Canada Tibet Committee.  “There is nothing, therefore, to assure Canadians that the next decision on a similar deal – whether it involves China or another country with grave human rights concerns – will take human rights any more seriously”.

    Members of the Coalition had written to the government in August, urging that this occasion be used to leverage human rights change in China and that human rights considerations should be central to the decision-making process.

    “At a minimum, the Canadian government must now demonstrate that there will be zero tolerance for any possible use of CNOOC personnel in ways that contravene human rights norms, such as harassing, threatening, or gathering intelligence on people in Canada who are active in associations in support of Tibetans and Uyghurs, Falun Dafa, or organizations promoting democracy in China,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada.  “It is equally important that Canada very clearly demonstrate that the approval of this deal, and the possibility of similar deals in the future, will not in any way lead to a toning down of Canadian advocacy for human rights in China.  Quite the contrary, this must lead to more active efforts by the Canadian government to press for human rights reform in China.”

    Endorsed by the following members of the Canadian Coalition on Human Rights in China:
    Amnesty international Canada (English Branch)
    Amnistie internationale Canada francophone
    Canada Tibet Committee
    Federation for a Democratic China Canada
    Students for a Free Tibet Canada
    Toronto Association for Democracy in China                                               Uyghur Canadian Society
    Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement

    For further information:
    Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Amnesty International 416-904-7158
    Carole Samdup, Canada Tibet Committee 514-487-0665
    Cheuk Kwan, Toronto Association for Democracy in China 416-804-1527