China

What Can Canadian Companies Do To Trade Responsibly With China?

Posted on: March 25th, 2013 by Harmony Foundation No Comments

 

By the end of 2011 there were over 2,500 Canadian companies in China. Like most western companies they have benefitted from permissive labour, health, and environmental standards and yet not one Canadian company is found among the top Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) rankings in China. With China Canada’s number two export destination this is an increasingly dangerous approach.


Changing Reality in China

There are now over 30 national laws and regulations related to CSR in China; as well guidelines from stock exchanges, industry association and leading institutes. As social and environmental deficits and public expectations for improvement rapidly rise, the Chinese government has begun to use CSR to address environmental and social deficits. More than 400,000 registered NGO’s and close to 3 million grassroots groups place companies under even closer scrutiny.

 

What Can Canadian Companies Do to Trade Responsibly with China?

Healthy, prosperous, educated communities are the best places to do business and investors, customers, staff and other stakeholders increasingly favour responsible companies. They recognize that integrity and accountability are more likely to lead to economic success and want meaningful investment in society not wasteful image-building campaigns.

 

China is no exception and each Canadian company has a critical decision to make: continue operating as usual and risk market share and reputation or to align its business strategy and sustainability outcomes to meet the needs of society.

 

Canadians have benefitted from China’s remarkable economic development, and those who benefit carry a responsibility to invest in social development and environmental protection as they do at home.

 

What can your company do?

 

1)    Develop and contribute expertise and technology to help create clean and green solutions. China’s current 12th Five Year Plan emphasizes reducing energy use and carbon emissions and protecting water.

 

 

2)    Stop selling harmful products and technologies. Selling millions of pounds of tobacco or coal fired power-plants to China with little regard for public health or the environment is irresponsible.

 

3)    Abide by highest international human rights, health and environmental standards. In January 2013, CCTV, China’s largest TV network, reported that KFC’s supplier uses 18 types of antibiotics raising chickens (it doesn’t do so in the USA and Canada). KFC is now facing a severe public relations crisis in China.

 

 

4)    Contribute to meeting China’s national priorities articulated in the 12th Five Year Plan (2011-2015):

 

  • Poverty alleviation, especially in rural and agricultural areas.
  • Building a resource saving and environmentally friendly society.  Government is regulating environmental impacts more strictly, and the public is paying closer attention to performance of international companies.
  • Developing a skilled population. Providing training and investing in education for staff and civil society development.
  • Promoting community self-governance and improving the mechanisms for safeguarding people’s rights.Support participatory governance and encourage staff volunteer programs.

 

5)     Respond to local key stakeholders

While government relations are important, companies need to respond to the expectations and concerns of other stakeholders, e.g. business partners, media, NGOs, customers and employees, and differences in cultures, economic conditions, and stakeholder values while respecting international requirements.

 

6)    Strengthen community engagement through substantive society-oriented CSR initiatives. For example:

 

 

7)    Work with develop capable local NGOs. NGOs enjoy close relationships with local communities and understand local needs and concerns. They provide invaluable insights for CSR initiatives and can help implement them successfully. The key is to distinguish Government Organized NGO (GONGOs) from independently organized NGOs, and to find reliable partners based on their credibility, capacity, and local relations.

 

 

8)    Implement strategic philanthropic programs. Disaster relief is important; however successful companies also invest continuously in education, social development, culture, and environmental protection.

 

 

9)     Adopt transparency, accountability, and honesty in reporting.

In brief, Canadians want their companies to do well and to contribute to our prosperity but not as the result of irresponsible development which damages the environment and public health, exploits the poor and ignores the needs of future generations.

 

Doing Business with China without Selling Our Soul

Posted on: December 14th, 2012 by Harmony Foundation No Comments

 

Standing in front of a Beijing Starbucks on a polluted October day I wondered what would approval of the Nexen–CNOOC deal mean for Canada and our relationship with China, not to overlook the Foreign Investment Protection Act and growing Chinese investment. We recently received an indication via the government’s new rules on foreign acquisitions. Or did we?

 

I’ve worked on environment and development issues for over 30 years, in China since 2005. I’m heartened that Canadians are paying increased attention to our relationship with China, but are we sufficiently concerned about our role in the environmental, health and social problems plaguing China and other countries with which we do business?

 

Since the early 1970s when we renewed diplomatic relations with China, our relationship has largely driven by economic leaders seeking commercial benefits and politicians anxious to facilitate that. National strategies to guide the relationship have been lacking, as well as a clear set of principles.

 

Some try to allay the fears of Canadians about social injustice and environmental damage arguing that the enormous economic change in China from a state to market-driven economy has led to significant improvement. Such an assertion is not supported by evidence and a policy of opportunity rather than relationship building is unlikely to achieve long-term success.

 

In our paper “Strengthening Canada’s Foreign Policy: Lessons from Our China Experiencewe examine the shortcomings of a foreign policy overwhelmingly based on short-term trade and economic ambitions and put forward ideas for a comprehensive, coordinated multi-sector Canada-China strategy that better meets Canada’s interests and our international responsibilities.

 

 

 

 

China is a complex environment, whether conducting business, pursuing political co-operation or recruiting wealthy tourists, students and immigrants. Our businesses governments, universities (and others) typically pursue their own interests with little regard to how they may or may not represent Canada’s best interests let alone how co-operation might achieve more lasting outcomes. It’s no great surprise then that many have noted, with some frustration, Canada’s lack of “brand recognition.”

 

The federal government is the only existing structure capable of pulling together the various actors and aspects of our China relationship into a coordinated effort. We recognize the inherent jurisdictional and operational challenges but these must be overcome to better serve Canada’s long-term interests.

 

It is a very large objective to create a non-partisan forum to bring together the diverse political and economic forces that contend in pursuing a Canadian strategy on China. Most governments and businesses are content with a loose policy environment in which they can adapt and adjust to circumstances as they please.

 

This may serve the interests of government and business but does it best serve Canada and the Canadian people? To answer that question we encourage our business and political leaders to work with civil society organizations to develop, with active public participation, a strategic policy. Canadians have the right to be represented abroad in ways that imbue pride.

 

Canada is a country with many natural and human assets. This author believes that Canadians are grateful for our blessings and will support a China policy, indeed a foreign policy that is socially just, environmentally responsible and economically sound.

If our national leadership is unwilling or unable to bring us together in the spirit of cooperation to craft such a strategy then Canadian civil society should step into the void and bring together interested parties to develop constructive proposals. What role do we want to play in the world? It’s time for Canadians to have that discussion and decide, not by inattentive or uninformed acquiescence but, through an honest, respectful process of nation building.

 

At the same time we need to decide who we welcome to Canada, including investors. Should Canada allow foreign purchase of our strategic assets?

 

In my opinion it’s the wrong question. It’s not about who develops our resources but how quickly they are developed, for whose benefit and how development impacts the environment and the lives of Canadians, particularly those whose rights may be immediately impacted.

 

I object to resources being developed too quickly because decisions are driven by investment goals rather than the best interests of Canadians. These assets will appreciate over time and they belong to Canadians not a small group of investors, foreign or Canadian.

 

Canada doesn’t need to develop the oil sands or any other natural resource in one generation nor is it fair or responsible to do so. Just as our foreign policy must be socially just, environmentally responsible and economically sound so must be our domestic practices.

 

There are alternatives. We can achieve economic success, without abandoning our social and environmental principles and responsibilities, only if Canadians are willing to work together to make that aspiration a reality.

 

Michael Bloomfield

Founder and Executive Director

Harmony Foundation of Canada

December, 2012

 

 

 

 

Friends of Nature Launches Community Based Water Project in China

Posted on: September 21st, 2012 by Harmony Foundation No Comments

 
Friends of Nature (FON) is pleased to announce that it is the first recipient in China of a grant from the Royal Bank of Canada’s Blue Water Project. Thanks to the generosity of RBC and assistance from Harmony Foundation of Canada, serving as advisors, the grant will support local water projects conducted by FON groups across China and lay the foundation for a national water stewardship program.

 

FON was founded in 1990 in Beijing and now has 10 registered volunteer groups across China, located in Hubei, Henan province, Shanghai and other regions. Their programs include Apple Suppliers Pollution Investigation, vegetation protection and wild bird habitat protection.

 

In addition to achieving local benefits thorough water clean-up and conservation, The Community Based Water Project will also improve the skills of local groups to assist their communities on water and other important issues.

 

Harmony Foundation of Canada is recognized internationally for innovation and leadership in education and community training and has helped business, government and civil society in 36 countries take positive action together for prosperity based on social development and healthy environments.

 

Together, Harmony and FON will choose participating FON groups and communities, provide training on public participation and assist them to successfully implement water projects to help improve local water quality and conservation.

 

In August the project began with a workshop involving FON registered groups. Vice Director Zhang Hehe and German advisor Joerg Naumann from FON introduced the project, and Chen Hulu from Shining Stone Community Action presented Harmony Foundation’s Community Action Workshop which will be used for community training. Representatives from all groups reacted with enthusiasm.

 

Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) is listed among the top 50 most socially responsible organizations in Canada; moreover, it is also one of top 100 most sustainable organizations in the world. The RBC Blue Water Project is a wide-ranging, multi-year program to help foster a culture of water stewardship, so that people have clean fresh water today and tomorrow.

 
Harmony Foundation and RBC have worked together with great success since 1989 and are pleased to join with FON in this outstanding project.

 

 

Shining Stone Community Action

Posted on: August 20th, 2012 by Harmony Foundation No Comments

 
Harmony Foundation’s partner Shining Stone Community Action (SSCA) in China recently published a book to help Chinese NGOs and local governments acquire more practical and positive public engagement methods. The book, Communication and Consultation: Six Methods to Promote Public Participationintroduces six methods on public participation successfully implemented in Germany, the United States, Canada and other countries. Harmony Foundation’s Community Action Workshop Manual is one of the methods featured. Since 1985 Harmony Foundation has been involved with community environmental initiatives. Our many years of experience in community development and adult education made clear that even the most inspired and dedicated people fail if they lack a clear, dependable process for working together for positive change.
 
A team of innovators in adult education, environment and community development was brought together, and from there the Community Action Workshop Manual arose. For over 15 years the manual has been culturally adapted and translated several times and used in 36 countries. During Harmony’s Program for Leadership & Cooperation for Sustainable Community Development in China from 2005 to 2011, we successfully adapted the Community Action Workshop to China and developed a Simplified Community Action Workshop Manual and Training the Trainers program to train facilitators.
 

Crazy Dam Fever Plagues China!

Posted on: July 10th, 2012 by Harmony Foundation No Comments

 

The 185-meter-high Three Gorges Dam was the biggest water dam in the world when it was completed On May 20, 2006.  The construction displaced millions of people and has had enormous environmental impacts during construction and beyond.

While the Chinese government was proud of creating this “miracle,” huge environmental impacts started to hit China soon thereafter. In the spring of 2011, seven central and eastern provinces and Shanghai were experiencing serious water shortages. This was the driest season in China in 50 years. While authorities blamed the problem on global warming, many experts dismissed such claims, recognizing that more frequent and longer lasting droughts occurred since the huge dam came on stream.

 

Criticism of the environmental, ecological and social damage from Three Gorges Dam has never cooled down, yet the fever for hydroelectric dam construction keeps getting even hotter despite scientific warnings. According to a June 2nd 2011 article from China [1], there were over 5200 dams over 30 metres high in China either constructed or under construction. You can say that along any well-known river in China there are hydroelectric dams. By 2020, most planned hydro projects will have been completed in nearly all areas except Tibet, and now China is focusing its thirst for hydro to Jinsha, Lancang, Anger River and Yarlung Zangbo Rivers in Tibet.

 

 

The Yellow River, the “cradle of Chinese civilization,” is the second-longest river in China after the Yangtze and the sixth-longest in the world at the estimated length of 5,464 kilometers.  Over 3300 dams were built along it, and it eventually dried out. For nearly the entire year of 1997, no water at all flowed into the sea from the Yellow River. [2]

 

The Jiulong River in the south of China, the mother river, once flowed through Longyan, Zhangzhou and Xiamen cities. Then the Jiulong River disappeared; cut into hundreds of unconnected ponds. The ecology along river is totally changed. In Zhangzhou alone, there were 920 hydroelectric plants in 2010; while in Longyan, the number already reached 1072 by 2007.  In Zhangzhou, over 100 fish species are extinct, and in Longyan, over 30 more vanished from the river. [3]

 

Apparently China didn’t learn the lessons from either the Yellow River or the Jiulong River. The same tragedy is happening to the Yangtze River now.

 

The Jinsha River, about 2308 kilometer long with catchment area of about 500 thousand square kilometer, is upstream from the Yangtze River. Its watercourse contributes about 40% of the Yangtze River. The Jinsha River will be divided into many sections by 25 hydroelectric dams under planning, which will generate as much electricity as four Three Gorges Dams put together, and become a gigantic cluster of reservoirs with an average of one hydroelectric dam every 100 kilometers.

 

Chinese geologist Fan Xiao of the Sichuan Geology and Mineral Bureau in China warned that the Yangtze River will run dry with so many dams along the river, that their combined reservoir volume would exceed the Yangtze’s flow.

 

Hold on a second! You are probably asking, “why does the hydroelectric development chaos in China matter to Canada?” Good question. Let’s take a deeper look at the roles Canada played in Three Gorges Dam. Pat Adams of Probe International made it clear commenting that, “the problems at the Three Gorges aren’t just a Chinese problem, as it’s often portrayed; it’s a world-wide issue, with responsibility in other countries.” [4]

 

In 1986, China picked a consortium funded by Canada to carry out a feasibility study on damming the Yangtze River in the Three Gorges region. By then, Canada was a leader on hydroelectric power. The report came out supporting Three Gorges Dam with one condition “the water depth should not exceed 160 metres.” However, China decided to go with 180 metres. Initially in 1992, Canada’s international development agency (CIDA) withdrew support, citing concerns about economic viability and social dislocation. Many other western governments initially refused to support China to build this huge dam too. However, in 1994, recently elected Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien led a trade mission to China and surprised Canadians by announcing his government’s support for Three Gorges Dam. No surprise that other western countries, such as Germany, Switzerland, Sweden and French, followed. [5]

 

Probe International asked the key question for us – how could a country with a reputation for being peacekeepers to the world, morally upstanding, and environmentally sound give the Three Gorges Dam the credibility and financing it desperately needed?

 

The companies that gave life to the Three Gorges Dam are BC Hydro International, Hydro-Quebec, SNC-Lavalin and Acres International. Who financed Three Gorges in Canada? AGRA Monenco, an international engineering and construction management company signed a $25million contract in 1994 and another for $12.5 million in 1995, with Canada’s Export Development Cooperation (EDC) financing this contract. Dominion Bridge Inc. signed a $64 million contract with Chongqing and Sichuan Province, and EDC financed $23.5 million of this contract. General Electric of Canada, in a consortium with Siemens and Voith-Hydro, German engineering companies, signed a $320 million contract in 1997, and EDC provided $153 million to finance GE Canada.  Hydro-Quebec International signed a $1.9 million contract with China Power Grid Development Company. [6]

 

Now, let’s think back to what Pat Adams said about “responsibilities in other countries.” If we contribute to harmful decision which lead to negative indeed nasty impacts in another country, shouldn’t we take responsibility for that?

 

The poor decisions may have been Chinese but the enablers were Canadian businesses and agencies willing to put aside social and environmental concerns and responsibilities to gain lucrative contracts and curry favour.

 

How are we doing now? Canada’s campaign to ship oil sands crude to China certainly offers major clues that short-term political and economic ambitions trump humanitarian and environmental concerns and responsibilities for Canadian decision-makers.

 

E-waste: Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Posted on: June 5th, 2012 by Harmony Foundation No Comments

Grand houses, luxury cars, piles of electronic waste, and a blackened river are common sights in Guiyu, a small town in Southern China, becoming infamous as a dumping ground for international e-waste. Every year about 20 to 50 million tons of e-waste is produced in the world with 70% shipped to China, and the rest sent to India or poor African countries. The e-waste includes computers, printers, cell phones, TVs, toys, and other electronics.

 

And it’s not only obsolete and broken equipment. Adam Minter, author of the Shanghai Scrap blog, found in April 2012 that the e-waste included defective but nearly new items from HP, Samsung, and Panasonic, as well as electronics returned for warranty repairs. In Guiyu, about 80% of families are directly involved in the business of disassembling and disposing of e-waste. Every year about 1.5 million tons of e-waste is processed in Guiyu, which contributes 90% of tax income for this small town.

 

 

 

Among over 150,000 employees in Guiyu’s e-waste industry, many are migrants from poorer parts of China, too desperate to care about the health risks. According to a 2008 documentary produced by 60 Minutes, “21st century toxins are being managed in a 17th century environment.” Workers use their bare hands to disassemble electric wire, plastics and circuit boards; then the unprotected workers use fire and mercuric acid baths to extract precious, mostly toxic, metals from the e-waste.

 

 

What’s the cost of our obsession with the newest electronic gadgets? The e-waste industry has seriously harmed the local environment and the health of residents. Acid residue is dumped into the local river which has turned black. Clouds of acrid smoke from burning the e-waste expose residents to polychlorinated and polybrominated dioxins, some of the most toxic compounds on earth. In fact, research has found that Guiyu has the highest level of cancer causing dioxins in the world.

 

Standing on the street for a short while you can smell the pungent stench in the air. Many workers have respiratory disease, skin ulcers and kidney stones. According to an article in the Chinese magazine Environment Research by Huo Xia, a professor in the Medical School of Shantou University, blood lead levels of 70.8% in children has reached the level of lead poisoning. The rate of stillborns for pregnant women in Guiyu from 2003-2007 was six times higher than other areas, and the rate of premature births was 62% higher.

 

Of course China bears some responsibility for this awful mess. In 2010 China, produced, 2.3 million tons of e-waste, second only to the U.S. production of 3 million tons. In addition, China ratified the Basel Convention in 1990 and has banned e-waste import ever since, but local governments turn a blind eye on the e-waste industry, grateful for tax income contribution to local towns.

 

But what about our responsibilities as consumers, is it fair for us to dump our waste on others?  And yet that’s exactly what we do, exploit the poor and leave them a legacy of damaged health and environments. Adding insult to injury we turn up our noses at their reckless behaviour and walk away.

 

The ugly truth is that the stinky e-waste export is driven by pure economics. A 2006 Seattle Times article E-waste dump of the world reported that, “an average computer yields only $1.50 to $2 worth of commodities such as shredded plastic, copper and aluminum (…) e-waste recyclers in the United States can’t cover their costs with such low yields, especially while respecting environmental regulations.” Even though charging 50 cents a pound for taking in old computers (about $20-28 per unit) would mean recycling can be done safely and profitably in the U.S., many companies still chose to ship the e-waste to Asia and Africa for better profit. Stricter environmental and safety rules drive up the cost of disposal, it’s as much as 10 times cheaper to export the waste to developing countries.

 

Surely this harmful practice can be stopped. In fact, in the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal was adopted to do just that. As the Basel Convention clearly states, “Recognizing the increasing desire for the prohibition of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal in other States, especially developing countries. Parties shall prohibit or shall not permit the export of hazardous wastes and other wastes to the Parties which have prohibited the import of such wastes.”

 

So what’s the problem? Shamefully, as the biggest e-waste producing country, the U.S. continues to allow such criminal e-waste management through weak legislation and failure to ratify the Basel Convention. As usual Canada makes all the right gestures and does little in practice.  Canada ratified the Basel Convention in 1992 but to date has done very little to enforce it. As the CBC documentary e-waste Dumping Ground (2008) pointed out, if e-waste export were an Olympic sport, the U.S. would win the gold medal while Canada would win the silver.

 

Even our Ministers of the Environment failed to get the job done. In 2004, The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment adopted 12 principles for e-product stewardship in the much ballyhooed Principles for Electronics Product Stewardship. Despite a clear commitment to only export e-waste for recycling from Canada to facilities with a documented commitment to environmentally sound management and fair labour practices, the CBC documentary clearly showed that some parts of Canada still ship e-waste to China and other countries.

 

So how do companies continue to export e-waste from Canada? Wikipedia reveals that the Canadian Government uses a unique interpretation of the Basel Convention to create a loophole in the regulations. As a result as much as 400,000 tons of e-waste is exported each year because it is intact not disassembled.

 

Our enforcement is not much more impressive. According to Seattle-based Basel Action Network, the only known enforcement success in Canada, occurred when 50 containers loaded with about 500,000 kg of e-waste destined for China and Hong Kong were caught at the Port of Vancouver in 2006. The 27 companies involved were fined less than $2,000 apiece under the Customs Act, but the company names were not revealed.

 

Well done Canada, we’ve opened the door to uncontrolled export of toxic e-waste and made some money in the process. If the Chinese or Ghanaians or others are stupid enough to take it, that’s their problem not ours.

 

So Canada, what’s our decision, out of sight, out of mind, or to take responsibility for ourselves?

 

If we are serious about human rights and environmental protection, we must first ban all e-waste export, and strengthen regulations for enforcement. The only exception should be highly specialized equipment going to a facility abiding by the highest international Environment, Health and Safety standards. At the same time, Canada should also urge, indeed require, producers to improve their product design for better disassembly and disposal, and press them to replace toxic flame-retardants with environmentally safe alternatives.

 

According to the U.S.Government Accountability Office, only $1 more in design cost per computer could save $4 for American recyclers in disassembly costs. Why let innocent people bear the cost for irresponsible consumers and profit-greedy producers? Sure companies and government must do better so must we as individuals. We need to control our eager pursuit of the latest fashion in cell phones, cameras, computers and other e-devices. Ten years ago, the average life span of a computer was six years; now it is only two years. Cell phones, cameras and TVs are no better.

 

If we each reduce our e-waste, make sure it is properly disposed of and choose suppliers who do the same we can help ensure our wastefulness is not destroying the environment or damaging the health of children and parents half way around the world.

 

If you want to explore more about e-waste, here are some links you can visit:

 

Important Facts You Need To Know About E-waste

 

The Dark Side of the Information Age

Chinese Investment in Canadian Energy and Natural Resources: Boon or Bogey Man?

Posted on: May 10th, 2012 by Harmony Foundation No Comments

 

Since Prime Minister Harper changed his government’s policy on China, Canada is welcoming, indeed encouraging Chinese investment. According to Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, “The stock of foreign direct investment into Canada from China reached approximately C$14 billion at the end of 2010. Chinese firms are actively investing abroad and have expressed a strong interest in investing in Canada. Sectors of interest include natural resources, renewable energy, information and communication technology, food processing, pharmaceuticals and natural medicine, and advanced manufacturing.” [1]

 
Are Canadians concerned, should we be concerned? According to Canadian Press-Harris Decima survey in February 2012, 51% of Canadians welcomed Chinese investment in Canada, while 71% felt badly if Chinese companies took majority control of an existing Canadian-owned operation.
 
Canadians do have a few concerns about China’s investment in natural resources. First of all, most of China’s investors in natural resources and energy are State Owned Enterprises (SOEs), who are considered by many as government agents, raising concerns China ‘s government will control some of the natural resources in Canada through its SOEs; second, because China lacks enough of its own resources, there is concern it will exploit Canada’s natural resources too rapidly to fuel its development needs; third, China’s investors and collaborators in Canada might bring short term contract workers from China to work in Canada.
 
The BHP bid on Potash exemplifies these concerns. In Aug. 2010, BHP Billiton (Australia), the largest mining company in the world, offered $38.6 billion in a takeover bid for PotashCorp in Saskatchewan, the largest Potash producer in the world. Meanwhile, China’s SOE Sinochem was looking for potential partners to mount a counter-offer. The Conference Board of Canada completed a report “Saskatchewan in the Spotlight” to help the provincial government to make their decision. This report says “BHP Billiton’s proposed takeover of PotashCorp could reduce Saskatchewan government revenues by at least $2 billion over the next 10 years”.  Under the scenario that Sinochem buys PotashCorp and adopts a “high production” approach, the possible reduction of revenue for Saskatchewan over a decade would be $5.7 billion. Eventually the bid by BHP Billiton was blocked by the Minister of Industry Tony Clement under the “net benefit to Canada” provision of Canada Investment Act on Nov. 3rd, 2010.
 
What’s interesting is that CBC held a poll online to solicit predictions on the BHP bid. 25.14% predicted that BHP would win the bid while only 9.85% thought China would buy PotashCorp. [2]
 
While the accelerated development concern seems real, the view held by many that most of China’s investment in Canada is in natural resources and energy does not match with results to date.  In fact, Asia Pacific Foundation’s research on China’s investment in Canada shows that in 2010, 44% of China’s investment in Canada was in business service, while 8.3% was in mining, dropped from 10.4% in 2008. [3]
 
Another concern expressed is the danger of Chinese domination. While it is true that Chinese investment in Canada has grown significantly in recent years, its overall scale compared to America and Europe is still small. In 2011, US invested $326.1 million in Canada while China’s investment was only $10.9 million.
 

 
Finally, concerns are being raised about Chinese environmental performance. In June 2010, China published “Environmental Performance Guidelines for China’s Overseas Investment,” covering environmental impact assessment, protocol protection mechanism, ecological compensation and corporate social responsibilities.
 
One can only conclude at this time that, whether or not China or any other foreign investor is a problem for Canada, whether control of essential industries or sectors, domination of Canadian business, undesirable influence over decisions of strategic national importance or weakening of labour, public health and environmental protection, is up to us.
 
We need to strongly encourage our governments to protect our interests and not compromise under pressure from business to give priority to their ambitions. Regarding China, let’s take the opportunity to help Chinese investors make responsible investment in Canada, better inform them about CSR in Canada, and where needed pressure Chinese companies to be social and environmentally responsible in Canada, at home and around the world. In this way we not only protect our own interests but also contribute, as we should, to improving conditions globally.
 
Major investment from China in Energy & Resource in Canada in the Past Three Years

     

  • Jan. 2012, PetroChina bought Athabassca Oil Sands Corporations’ remaining stake  (40%) in the Mackay River project with $1.9 billion, which made PetroChina the first Chinese company having full ownership of an oilsands project
  • Nov.2011, CNOOC acquired Opti Canada, a financially troubled Calgary company, with US$2.1 billion; in return, CNOOC gains a 35% stake in the Long Lake oil sands project.
  • Oct. 2011, Sinopec bought Daylight Energy Ltd. for $2.2 billion.
  • Aug. 2011, Jilin Jien Nickel would invest another $400 million in its nickel extraction project in Nunavik, which makes the total investment $800 million after it acquired Canadian Royalties Inc. in 2010.
  • May, 2011, Baosteel purchased Noront Resources’s 9.9% equity with $17.4 million (the percentage could raise from 9.9% to 14.15% with extra $11.7 million)
  • Apr. 2011, Jinchuan Group acquired Continental Minerals with $431 million
  • Jan. 2011, Wuhan Iron & Steel Group (WISG) and Adriana Resources (ADI) signed agreement that WISG would pay ADI $120 million for a 60% participating interesting in a joint venture in the Lac otelnuk and December Lake iron ore properties in Northern Quebec
  • Sept. 2010, XinXing Pipes Group Co. agreed to invest up to $1 billion into an iron ore mining project in Nunavut
  • Aug. 2010, CRCC-Tongguan Investment Co., a jointed-owned direct subsidiary of Tongling Nonferrous Metals Group Holdings Co., Ltd. and China Railway Construction Corporation Limited, acquired 100% of Corriente Resources, a Vancouver based copper company, with $679 million.
  •  May 2010, CIC invested $1.25 billion to a joint-fund company with Penn West Energy.
  • Apr. 2010, Sinopec paid USD$4.65 billion to Syncrude Canada Ltd. for a 9% stake in Syncrude owned by Conoco Phillip.
  • Feb.2010, PetroChina completed the acquiry of Athabasca’s 60% interest of macKay and Dover oil sands projects.
  • Dec. 2009, Yunann Chihong Zinc and Germanium Co. Ltd. and Selwyn Resources signed agreement for Chinhong to earn a 50% joint venture interest in the Selwyn project by spending $100 million on exploration and development.
  • Oct. 2009, CIC invested $500 million in convertible bonds of SouthGobi Energy Resources Ltd. to help SouthGobi accelerate its coal mining and exploration activities in Mongolia.
  • 2009, CIC invested $1.74 billion to buy 17% of Tech Resources Ltd’s equity.
  • 2009, China State Grid Corp signed a MOU with Quadra Mining Ltd. (QuadraFNX Mining Ltd.) on an investment of $1billion.
  • March 2009, Wuhan Iron and Steel Group (WISG) invested US$240 million and became the biggest shareholder of Consolidated Thomson Iron Mine Ltd. (CLM); it owns 19.9% of CLM’s share, 25% of CLM’s BloomLake project and 50% product from that project.

 

Are You Wearing Something Clean?

Posted on: May 7th, 2012 by Harmony Foundation No Comments

 

Water shortages and pollution trouble China, with two thirds of over 600 cities lacking sufficient clean water. Industrial use and wastewater discharge are major causes for water shortages and heavy pollution with the textile industry the biggest source of both.  In November 2011 Greenpeace published Dirty Laundry – Unraveling the corporate connections to toxic water pollution in China, and then in April, a group of respected environmental NGOs in China, Friends of Nature (FON), the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE), the Darwin Institute of Environment, Green Stone, and EnviroFriends, published the report Clean up for Fashion – Green Choice Textile Brand Supply Chain Pollution.

 

According to these reports, many textile factories are responsible for serious environmental violations in China, causing severe water pollution.

 

More than a few violators are suppliers for famous international textile brands and clothing retailers. To make these international companies aware of the unethical performance of their suppliers and to encourage their action to improve their supply chain’s environmental practices, the 5 environmental groups sent letters to the CEOs of 48 international companies in March 2012.

 

Some companies, such as Nike, Esquel, Levi’s and Burberry started to investigate suppliers and look for solutions; some replied, refusing to give any information.  Remarkably Zara replied, “We regret that we cannot respond to individual requests for information from schools, universities and professionals regarding our business model.” More chose to ignore the request for information, and by the time the Clean up for Fashion report was published, 32 companies still had not replied. To date, 23 companies have replied, while the other 25 still keep silent.

 

So who are these companies who fashionably damage the environment to produce our clothes? The logos shown below identify the 48 companies who received letters, including many top brands.

 

Why should we care, if the Chinese care about their environment let them do a better job protecting it?  The stark reality is that much of the damage is done by companies cutting corners to provide us with low cost fashion. Let’s look forward to the day… soon… When Wal-Mart changes its slogan from “Save money, live better “ to Save the environment, live better” and we quit making our consumer choices simply based on price and take into account the environmental, health, and labour practices of  the companies we support or avoid.

 

The 48 companies are:

 


China for Dummies: Understanding the Roles of Major Political Groups

Posted on: May 1st, 2012 by Harmony Foundation No Comments

 
A girl is reading the newspaper, and after she finished she asked her mom, “Who is the Party Committee?”
 
Mom answered, “The Party Committee is your dad, who doesn’t work at all but always scolds others.”
 
The girl then asked, “Who is the government?” Mom answered, “The Government is me, who works all day long and is always blamed by your dad.”
 
The girl kept asking, “Who is the People’s Congress?” Mom said, “Your grandpa is the People’s Congress, who nominally is the boss of the family, but he takes care of nothing except wandering around with his birdcage.”
 
The girl continued, “Then who is the Political Consultative Conference?” Mom rubbed her waist and said, “Your grandma is the Political Consultative Conference, who nags everyday but nobody listens to her.”
 
The girl asked another question, “Who is the Disciplinary Committee?” Mom sighed, “Oh dear, you are the Disciplinary Committee. Nominally you should supervise your parents, but all you eat and wear are from your parents and you are actually led by your parents; moreover, you ask questions about this and that day in and day out!”
 
The girl asked her last question, “Who is the Labour Union?” Mom replied, “Your uncle is the Labour Union. You never see him unless he visits us for holidays.”