By Phuntsok Yangchen
DHARAMSHALA, November 1: Tibetans and supporters in Toronto carried out a protest against the pending sale of Canadian oil giant Nexen to China's state-owned corporation, China National Offshore Oil Company, Wednesday.
Protesters shouted slogans in front of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade to show the Tibetan community’s resounding opposition to this deal.
“This deal is bad for Canada, and it is bad for Tibet. The Chinese government has a horrific track-record of violating trade agreements, state-sponsored espionage, and human rights abuses,” said Urgyen Badheytsang, National Director of Students for a Free Tibet Canada.
Reuters, in a report earlier today, cited “two sources close to the matter” as saying that Canada is likely to extend its review of the $15.1 billion bid by CNOOC Ltd, Cnooc, China’s largest offshore oil producer, beyond next week's deadline to allow more time for the government to formulate a broad framework on foreign investment.
The Canadian government has said foreign investment is needed to develop the country's vast energy resources but it has been grappling with whether to limit any country's share. It also needs to decide on how deal with state-owned enterprises that may not play by free-market rules.
“CNOOC itself is complicit in human rights abuses in Tibet, funding China's efforts to force millions of Tibetan nomads off their land to make way for mining and oil extraction. This policy is driving Tibetans to self-immolate in protest, with 50 self-immolations in the past year alone,” Badheytsang said. “The Canadian government must not sell off our national resources to a company that destroys Tibetan lives.”
Polls have shown that Canadians are opposed to the government approving the CNOOC bid, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said Ottawa would take public opinion into account.
Adding to the mounting national opposition to this deal, Badheytsang said protests are also planned in Calgary and Victoria over the coming weeks and Students for a Free Tibet is encouraging its members to write directly to Prime Minster Harper, while urging their MPs to raise CNOOC's Tibet connection in the House of Commons.
Tibetan-Canadians further called on the Harper government to publicly address the growing human rights crisis in Tibet where at least 62 Tibetans have lit themselves on fire in an ongoing wave of self-immolations against Chinese rule.