Washington (IANS): India is set to decisively outpace China in economic growth this year, and emerge not just as the fastest-expanding economy but also as just a handful of countries to show some acceleration, as per the latest report of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
ONTARIO Premier Kathleen Wynne will travel to Colorado, California and China this fall to promote Ontario’s attractiveness as a trading partner and as a centre for investment. Wynne made the announcement on Wednesday during a speech to government and business leaders at the Toronto Global Forum — Pan American Edition.
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by Ng Weng Hoong in Vancouver
Amid the growing debate over China’s influence in this country, some 200 delegates attended the inaugural Pacific Finance and Trade Summit in Vancouver on June 16 to promote Canada as a trading and clearing hub for the Chinese renminbi (RMB) currency.
News soon filtered in that an Ontario cabinet minister, in promoting increased trade ties with China, had or has been under surveillance for at least five years for being “too close” to Beijing. “Treason” and “espionage” were mentioned in a sensational Globe and Mail story about Michael Chan, a China-born naturalized citizen who has risen within Ontario’s Liberal Party government. But no charges have been laid, and two days after the June 16 story, the Federal Justice Minister punctured the newspaper’s claim that he had confirmed Chan was under investigation.
Nevertheless, given the prevailing anti-China sentiment in Canada’s newsrooms, the centrist Globe found rare support from its right-wing National Post rival. Diane Francis, a noted China critic, added to the Globe’s narrative by stating that Canada could suffer “long-term pain” if its business elite continues to cozy up to Beijing. She also suggested that Chinese migrants are really aiding Beijing’s takeover of Canada’s natural resources and hurting less well-off citizens by inflating real estate prices.
Earlier, in a three-part series on booming Richmond city, the Vancouver Sun’s Douglas Todd reprised some of his criticisms about Chinese migrants: ethnic enclaves, proliferation of Chinese language signs, rising housing unaffordability and weakening community cohesion.
Long suspicious of China, The Tyee, a left-leaning online publication, weighed in with a new critical report on how Prime Minister Stephen Harper sold Canada off to Beijing through the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA).
Rarely has the breadth of Canada’s ideological media divide been so united on a single topic: the fear of China and things Chinese.
The curse of interesting times
While both sides have matching economic imperatives -- China needs natural resources and services, Canada needs markets -- domestic politics in both countries along with strained interactions between new Chinese migrants and Canadians are having an unpredictable impact on bilateral relations.
With Canada’s economy veering towards recession amid the prolonged oil-and-gas price collapse, its leaders recognize the need for expanded long-term economic ties with China and Asia to reduce dependence on the U.S.
Among those at the June 16 event were China’s Vancouver-based Consul General Liu Fei, B.C.’s Trade Minister Teresa Wat, Finance Minister Michael De Jong, two of his predecessors, former finance ministers from Alberta and Ontario, as well as representatives from some of the world’s largest banks. Four of those banks are from China, led by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), which has more than US$3 trillion in assets and the role of clearing RMB trades for the Americas.
In over three years as consul general, Liu said she has travelled across B.C. to meet with the mayors and business people of more than 30 cities and towns who are eager to increase trade ties with China.
Despite bilateral trade reaching a record (C$77.43 billion) last year, she said both countries are fulfilling a mere fraction of their export potential. Canada has room to substantially increase export to China’s 1.4 billion people after selling just C$18.8 billion worth of merchandise last year.
Colin Hansen, a former B.C. finance minister who now heads up AdvantageBC, describes the RMB hub as a huge opportunity for Canada to create new business to serve companies throughout the Americas who are planning to or are already doing business with China.
With China globalizing its currency, Hansen said Canada with its strong physical, banking and legal infrastructure and stable political system is well-positioned to succeed as a RMB hub. Vancouver and Toronto have the added strength of their diverse populations, in particular their ready pool of Canadians fluent in English, Mandarin and Cantonese.
Range of fears
But not everyone wants Canada to become China’s currency booster, or have more Mandarin or Cantonese speakers in the population mix.
Disregarding their country’s gloomy economic outlook, 49 per cent of Canadians recently told the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada (APFC) they don’t want any investments from China, citing a range of fears from loss of control of strategic assets, to environmental, health, safety, security and labour challenges. Politically, the RMB hub faces a hard sell as Canadians are becoming increasingly negative towards their country’s second largest trade partner.
Canada’s mainstream media have played to the public’s anti-China mood by highlighting Beijing’s territorial bullying of its neighbours, its disastrous environmental record, and human rights abuses. The reports also focus on how new Chinese migrants in Greater Vancouver and Toronto are not integrating well due to their lack of English or French language fluency.
Some 64 per cent of Vancouver residents blame Chinese-led foreign buying for causing the city’s rising real estate cost, according to a Angus Reid survey. The media has focused on Chinese buying of expensive high-end homes, but have hardly investigated other causes of Vancouver’s rising housing unaffordability.
Also, less widely reported is Chinese contribution in boosting the economies of many countries around the world, including the revival of Canada’s previously depressed resource towns.
The spread of Chinese influence
Richmond city stands out as the symbol of what’s not to like when Chinese migrants and money become dominant, in particular in the proliferation of Chinese language signs in the downtown core.
“If all they’re bringing in is money, they won’t become a true part of Canada. The new migrants must make an effort to learn English or French,” said Stewart Beck, the APFC’s president and CEO, in an interview.
Canadian suspicions have also been aroused by Beijing’s eagerness to “splash the cash”. In 2012, state-owned China National Oil Corp (CNOOC) paid a very generous 61 per cent premium of more than C$15.1 billion for a medium-sized oil and gas company with little growth prospects.
That record deal for both countries has ended badly for the acquired Nexen Inc., leaving behind a trail of job cuts, broken promises and unfulfilled expectations. With that deal’s failings still unfolding, many wonder if the potential benefits of the RMB hub project could just be as over-stated, and its problems under-rated.
Missing the big story
Despite his political aversion towards China, Prime Minister Harper signed two major agreements with Beijing last year: FIPA and the RMB hub deal.
There are concerns the RMB hub could be used for remitting “funny money” amid reports that Vancouver is a popular destination for criminals and corrupt officials fleeing China.
However, Jimmy Mitchell, AdvantageBC’s vice president for business development, sees the RMB hub as aiming to promote and facilitate legal and legitimate trade between China and the Americas.
“Given that the RMB hub represents a new channel and a new relationship to handle an unprecedented amount of money, we will focus on building the trust and processes to make it work,” he said.
By promoting the RMB hub and FIPA, Canada will be helping to expand China’s influence in the region. In targeting Chan for allegedly doing Beijing’s bidding, the Globe and Mail has clearly missed the bigger stories.
Ng Weng Hoong is a Vancouver writer who has been covering energy and economic issues in Asia and the Middle East for over three decades.
by Shan Qiao (@dmaomao) in Toronto, Ontario
Major Chinese media outlets had Michael Chan, Ontario Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade, in their headlines after the Globe and Mail published a controversial investigative feature on him last Tuesday.
During an interview conducted right after the Globe published the story, Chan told Ming Pao that he has previously read articles about himself published in Chinese media that were similar to the Globe’s piece.
“I feel confused,” Chan said to Ming Pao. “During many events I have participated [in], I have heard from Prime Minister Stephen Harper, I have heard from Minister of National Defence Jason Kenney, I have heard from Senator Victor Oh that Canada needs to develop its relations with China. I am doing this job, yet I was investigated by CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) and I was criticized by the newspaper.”
He continued: “Should we develop Canada-China relations? Or should the person who promotes Canada-China relations be investigated? I am waiting for an answer from the Prime Minister.”
Attempt to Discourage Chinese-Canadians from Politics?
Ming Pao also interviewed Geng Tan, who is a federal Liberal candidate in Toronto’s Don Valley North riding, and whom Chan strongly supported.
Tan blasted the Globe’s report and indicated the story is nothing but mud throwing at the Chinese community. “The report suggests [a] Liberal candidate who has [a] mainland Chinese immigrant background has close ties with the Chinese government. It wants to discourage Chinese immigrants from participating in [Canadian] politics,” he told Ming Pao. He asserted that he would still run for office despite the Globe’s report.
Sing Tao, another major Chinese-language daily newspaper, also published an interview with Chan on its front page. Chan told Sing Tao that he “absolutely has no idea why the Globe would publish something as old as five years ago.” The CSIS briefing on Chan occurred in 2010.
Chan told Sing Tao that the Globe’s intention in publishing the article before a federal election with Chinese candidates running for office is questionable. He encouraged Chinese-Canadians not to feel fearful and to still take an active role in Canadian politics. They should be more involved in election campaigns and help their candidates, he added.
What Chan said echoes the open letter he put out after the Globe’s report, which stated: “I would like to continue to encourage newer Canadians to consider taking an active role in public life. This is essential for our society to progress. They should not be discouraged by the fear of allegations that the everyday actions of newer Canadians need to be minutely examined to determine if they somehow have lesser loyalties to this country.”
Sing Tao also published a statement made by Yang Yundong, spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Canada, in its follow-up story the next day. In the statement, Yundong said the story was unfair and discriminatory to Chan and the Chinese community. He went on to say judging Chan to have lesser loyalties to Canada because he emigrated from China and helps develop the relations between China and Canada is wrong.
The statement also said that there are many Canadians living and working in China, such as Dashan (Mark Rowswell), a well-known comedian who rose to fame in the early ’90s. “They use their own way to connect China with Canada and we appreciate them,” the statement concluded.
This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to email@example.com
Highlights: Not an "unwitting dupe", says minister + It's a civic debate, not a "culture war" + Politicians are courting the immigrant vote + Radio Mango anniversary + Take a peek inside the Governor General's + Exclusive interview with Deepak Obhrai + much more
by Ranjit Bhaskar (@ranjit17) in Toronto
Ontario cabinet minister Michael Chan has joined issue with the Globe and Mail over its reporting this week suggesting he could be a threat to national security on account of his close ties with China.
In an open letter, the provincial Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade said the articles “are little more than a re-hash of ludicrous allegations published – and debunked – five years ago. Indeed, the Globe & Mail at that time properly called the suggestions 'reckless, foolish and contradictory.'"
The allegations Chan was referring to spring from a CBC interview with former Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) director Richard Fadden aired in 2010. Fadden did not identify anyone in that interview nor did he elaborate on specific concerns. After a backlash from politicians and Chinese-Canadians, Fadden recanted and the controversy subsided.
"There is a persistent theme that there is a perceived risk that I am under undue influence and that I am an unwitting dupe of a foreign government," Chan asserted in his open letter today.
However, following the Globe and Mail articles, federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay said there is an “ongoing investigation” involving Chan. “Clearly there are people outside our country, as inside our country, who would seek to exert influence,” MacKay, who would not comment on specifics of the probe, said.
MacKay’s comments highlight the difference between Ottawa and Queen’s Park over the issue. Premier Kathleen Wynne on Tuesday defended her minister, saying any concerns about Chan were “baseless,” and the federal spy agency’s suspicions lacked substance. “He has my trust.”
“All of those have been addressed. There was nothing of substance that has been brought forward to me,” the Premier said during an unrelated factory tour in Cambridge, Ont. “Michael Chan has done his job with respect and with honour. He has worked incredibly hard for the people of Ontario and he continues to do so.”
Chan first became a cabinet minister eight years ago under former premier Dalton McGuinty and has continued to serve under Wynne.
“On our trade mission together last fall to China, Michael was instrumental in attracting to Ontario almost $1 billion in new investment by Chinese companies, creating 1,800 jobs,” said Wynne. “There are some who may believe that there is something sinister about maintaining deep ties with one’s country of origin, or one’s culture. I believe the opposite and so do millions of Canadians who have immigrated to Canada.”
Chan in his letter says the banner headline of the first article on Monday gives the impression that it contains a major revelation, with a headline in bold type in the print edition stating that it has been alleged that “this Minister” could be a “threat” to Canada.
“Although I have been a minister for eight years, it is probably true that most Ontarians do not know me well. For many, their first impressions of me will be from the headlines in the recent Globe articles. It hurts me that this is the case,” Chan wrote, saying the body of the article contains a blend of innuendo and half-suggestions although “nothing I have done in any way supports any suggestion that I am a possible threat to Canada or to Ontario.”
A second story that followed on Wednesday details his emigration to Canada and his rise to success in business and politics. Chan, in his open letter, said maintaining deep, meaningful connections with one’s culture, with one’s country of origin, is something millions of Canadians cherish. “I came to this country as a young man. Canada welcomed me. While I am proud of my Chinese heritage, I am a Canadian first and foremost. I owe all the success I have had to this country and, most particularly, to the province of Ontario.”
Chan, a prominent Liberal fundraiser in Chinese circles, said he would like to think that in some small way he has served as an example to all Canadians who may wish to take part in public affairs. He concluded his letter by saying he will continue to encourage newer Canadians to take an active role in public life.
“They should not be discouraged by the fear of allegations that the everyday actions of newer Canadians need to be minutely examined to determine if they somehow have lesser loyalties to this country.”
We are open to Asian investment, but cautious of big, new investors like China that have yet to prove themselves in the minds of many Canadians, a new poll by the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada (APFC) has found.
Released this week, the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada’s 2015 National Opinion Poll found that Canadians also tend to overestimate how much foreign direct investment in our country is actually owned by companies from China, which contributes to a sense of fear that we are that we are losing control over our economy.
And even though the poll reveals that Canadians are confident that foreign companies will abide by Canadian laws in Canada, the news we consume related to the negative activities of some Chinese corporations in China likely shapes our perceptions generally of Chinese companies abroad, APFC said.
Canadians may be apprehensive about foreign investment by Chinese companies, but according to the poll they are clearly open to persuasion through positive, demonstrable contributions to Canadian society.
Meanwhile, the poll indicated that Canadian perceptions of investment from Japan—a country that was a security risk and an economic rival in the living memory of many Canadians—are overwhelmingly positive.
China is a relatively new player in the Canadian economy, with major corporate sector investment emerging only in the past 10 years. Views toward this new economic force may indeed change over time, as they have with Japan, APFC said.
The APFC’s take-away from this year’s poll: Chinese companies are in a position to favourably shape public opinion by creating a legacy of positive contribution to Canada’s economic and social well-being.
The poll also found that a majority of Canadians express positive views about investment from major Asian players, including Japan, South Korea, and India. Canadians, the poll found, are reasonably well informed about basic foreign investment rules and practices, and the most informed Canadians tend to be those who are also most supportive of investment from Asia.
Poll's Key Findings
I) Canadians are generally supportive of investment from Asia. A majority expressed positive views of investment from Japan (78 per cent), South Korea (67 per cent) and India (59 per cent). This is comparable to Canadians’ favourable views on investment from the United States (77 per cent), Canada’s largest source of foreign direct investment. Only in the case of China are opinions more mixed, with two-fifths (42 per cent) being favourable to Chinese investment and half (49 per cent) expressing opposition.
ii) Chinese investment in Canada has been a contentious topic recently, but, despite the controversies, many Canadians remain open to the potential benefits. There are, nonetheless, characteristics that often accompany Chinese foreign investment—such as the involvement of state-owned enterprises and the concentration in the resource sector—about which the Canadian public remains skeptical.
iii) Canadians worry that investment from global powers like China and the United States will lead to a loss of control over our natural resources. Almost half (48 per cent) of Canadians associate Chinese investment with the phrase “loss of control over our resources,” and two-fifths (42 per cent) associate the same phrase with investment from the United States. By comparison, less than one-fifth (18 per cent) of Canadians express a similar concern about foreign control over resources when asked about investment from Japan.
iv) Canadians estimate that companies from China own one-quarter (25 per cent) of all foreign direct investment in Canada, while the official figure is closer to three per cent. This misperception is likely driven in part by the recent increase in Chinese investment, the value of which jumped from C$0.2 billion to C$20.4 billion between 2003 and 2013. Canadians who significantly overestimate the extent of Chinese ownership in the Canadian economy are also more likely to say Canada has allowed “too much” investment from China to enter the country.
v) A majority of Canadians know that foreign companies are subject to Canadian laws and regulations (75 per cent), that the federal government plays a role in approving large foreign investments (69 per cent), and that the majority of Chinese investment is concentrated in the resource sector (54 per cent). Close to half of Canadians (48 per cent) also rejects as false the notion that foreign-owned companies pay their Canadian workers less than Canadian-owned companies.
vi) Canadians do not always disentangle their attitudes about foreign investment from their attitudes toward particular countries. This is particularly true in the case of China. Although most Canadians recognize that foreign companies operating in Canada abide by domestic laws and practices, they still associate investments from China with terms like “environmental damage” and “poor labour standards.”
vii) The poll suggests many Canadians may not be worried about how Chinese investors behave in Canada as how Chinese companies behave in China. This presents a challenge for Chinese companies operating in Canada. Significant investment in Canada by Chinese companies is a relatively recent phenomenon. Chinese investors in Canada do not yet have a visible and established track record of contributing to the country that could be used to counter the skeptical attitudes many Canadians have toward China in general. Barring significant socio-political change in China, Canadians are only likely to warm up to Chinese investment if they see Chinese companies making a positive contribution to Canada.
viii) Almost two-thirds of Canadians (65 per cent) mention “new technologies” as a key term they associate with Japanese investment, a country that was once associated with inferior, low-end products. Canadian consumption of Japanese high-tech products, along with positive contributions by Japan to Canada’s economy like the construction of state-of-the-art car manufacturing facilities, also likely to play a role in shaping perceptions of investment from Japan. With time, it is likely that Canadian attitudes toward Chinese investment will evolve. In this regard, early Chinese investors in Canada have a special role and responsibility to facilitate this evolution by contributing to a positive legacy.
The APFC’s conclusion of the poll is that Canadians are generally supportive of investment from Asia, though their level of support varies across countries. Canadians have an overwhelmingly positive view of investment from Japan, associating it with new technologies, economic growth, and job creation. Canadians also support investment from South Korea and India.
Republished in Partnership with Asian Pacific Post.
A new $150,000 scholarship program that will benefit 120 students from China, Japan and South Korea ignores India. Education Minister Peter Fassbender announced the new British Columbia International Education Scholarships on Tuesday during his current mission to Asia. Under the program the ministry will provide each country’s students with awards totalling $50,000. Forty students from […]
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-- Canada's economic development minister Navdeep Bains at a Public Policy Forum economic summit