The January 30 Echo carried a comment in “Beefs & Bouquets” concerning Philip Round’s excellent article on Chinese immigration and the purchases of Comox Valley businesses.
Since Mr. Round’s article was largely based on an interview with Maggie Mah of my office (Ansley & Company), I feel a responsibility to correct some misapprehensions on the part of the anonymous complainant.
I fully appreciate the writer’s concern about the sellout of this country to the Government of China, which in fact means the Chinese Communist Party (“CCP”). I share that concern. The “beefer” alludes to our government having “sold our country out to China with trade agreements”. Trade arrangements with China represent only a small component of our government “sellouts” to China.
When Stephen Harper approved the sale of Nexen Corporation (a Canadian energy company holding a significant stake in the Alberta oilsands) to China National Offshore Oil Corporation (“CNOOC”), he defended the transaction as simply a purchase and sale involving a foreign corporation.
It was nothing of the sort. This was in fact a nationalisation of a private corporation, but it was a nationalisation by the Chinese Government (“CCP”) rather than the Canadian Government. The CEO of CNOOC is appointed by, is subject to dismissal by, and reports to the Chinese Government (“CCP”). It is difficult to tell whether Harper was consciously striving to serve the interests of the CCP, or whether he is simply ignorant of China’s political and economic structure.
Most Canadians would be shocked to know the true extent to which the Chinese Government (“CCP”) has penetrated every sector and every level of Canadian society over the past quarter century. While not readily visible, the CCP today enjoys a significant influence over all three levels of Canadian government and over universities, media, the business community, and even the activities of Canadian citizen groups disapproved by China.
I am currently working on a book which examines and sheds light on the chilling degree to which the CCP has infiltrated Canada. Our law office has for years been, and continues to be, heavily involved in legal efforts to resist the illegitimate undermining of Canadian values and the purchasing of Canadian opinion leaders by the CCP.
In short, the commentator addresses a legitimate concern. However his/her anger is misdirected in this particular case. The Chinese immigrant investors who have recently purchased Comox Valley businesses, and those who are currently considering such purchases here, are not tied to the Chinese Government (“CCP”); nor are they Chinese corporations. These are small business people, likely looking to escape the repressive and restrictive domination of the CCP in China in favour of building a new life in Canada. These are the kind of Chinese immigrants who have made such rich contributions to the cultural mosaic and economy of our country for more than a century. In time, their role in our community may mirror that of John Leung, whose history in the Comox Valley was also recently chronicled by Philip Round.
The commentator laments the “various enticements to encourage Chinese people to buy up and run local businesses” and suggests that such “enticements and rewards” should instead be offered to local citizens to enable them, rather than Chinese immigrants, to purchase businesses in the Comox Valley.
There is a fundamental misconception at play here. The Chinese purchases flow from a provincial government “Succession Program” which offers Permanent Resident status to properly qualified foreign parties willing to:
1. Purchase existing businesses whose owners wish to retire, financing their retirement through the sale of the businesses they have built up over decades; and
2. Preserve the jobs of the employees currently working in those businesses.
The only “incentive” offered the Chinese purchasers is Permanent Residence/Citizenship. Obviously, this incentive has no application to local people who are already citizens.
The Succession Program was developed by the province for one reason only: to help local small business owners of retirement age sell their business and keep it running, rather than having to close down and terminate their employees. The approval process for immigrant investors may take anywhere from several months to a couple of years. Any local buyers may purchase these businesses at any time. The need for immigrant investor/purchasers springs entirely from the fact that there are no local buyers at the present time. The Succession Program is a way to preserve the local businesses and the jobs they provide. The choice is not between Chinese buyers and local buyers; it is between keeping local people employed or closing the doors.
Finally, the commentator fires off the hip shot that “realtors and their pro-development ilk want to develop everything in the Valley they possibly can”. Not a single one of the businesses already sold or potentially to be sold under this program involves real estate development or, indeed, development of any kind. Such purchases would not even qualify the immigrant under the “Succession Program”. The only businesses eligible for this program are small family-owned enterprises facing closure upon retirement of the proprietors. Development is no part of this picture.