The Chinese are coming, and other problematic Canadian sovereignty woes

Some analysts say a little bit of economic imperialism isn't all that bad. 

Graphic by Massoud Hayoun

They're coming—the Chinese. The Americans. And of course, experts in empire, the British.

They want to slice a nation into concessions. They want to guzzle its fresh water and pump its oil into their cars, tractors and factories, and extract more and more of its fuels for their burgeoning economies. Even move into its embassies abroad.

Surprisingly, the nation victim to this frenzied rush for resources isn't in the so-called 'developing' or post-colonial world. It's Canada.

Canadian politicians, environmentalists and media are perennially abuzz with news of a pending imperialist takeover. But the kind of imperialism they describe isn't imperialism in the traditional sense, where the oppressor pushes an economic agenda—a wholesale heist of natural resources—after a political takeover.

The kind of economic imperialism Canadians seem to fear starts off with business and spills over into politics.

A Red Scare?

Some politicians and environmentalists say China—once bent into submission by Western nations, which divided Shanghai into colonial 'concessions' and forbade ethnic Chinese (except nannies and cooks) from entering certain parts of Central, Hong Kong—is now guilty of going after Canadian land, oil and politics. 

Green Party leader Elizabeth May maintains Chinese enterprises bidding for Canadian natural energies represent a threat to national sovereignty.

Chinese state-owned enterprises are an extension of the Communist Party of China and threaten to erode sovereignty in different ways than other foreign investors,” May told The Vancouver Observer in an article on Chinese energy company CNOOC's bid for Canadian gas and oil giant Nexen last month.

While the CNOOC bid awaits approval until November on Parliamentary Hill, it seems Chinese Communism has yet to infiltrate Canadian politics.

Still, in an unpublished segment of May's interview, she argued business deals with the People's Republic have already harmed Canadian self-determination.

We are experiencing a loss of decades of environmental laws in order to satisfy the Chinese government and state-run oil companies,” she said.

Harper defied expert advice to ensure all foreign takeovers were reviewed against an objective definition of 'national security.' In the 2009 amendments to the Investment Canada Act, Harper and the PC refused to define "national security" saying the term was too fluid to be capable of definition.” 

What May described then was a kind of economic imperialism.

We will lose sovereignty and the ability to regulate to protect the environment if Harper follows through with a free trade deal with China,” she said. 

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