Western powers should drop bias toward Chinese investors

2012-12-09 07:45:38 GMT2012-12-09 15:45:38(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

Twice prolonging its verification process amid strong domestic protests, the Canadian government has finally approved the 15.1-billion U.S. dollar bid by China's state-owned CNOOC for oil and gas producer Nexen.

Friday's hard-earned approval for the largest overseas takeover by a China-based company has expressly revealed the predicament that has frustrated Chinese entrepreneurs' enthusiasm for foreign investments and prompted them to question the fairness of foreign marketplaces.

For quite a while, Chinese investors have been discredited by some Western governments and media as a group of cash-rich predators and spies. They have been wrongly reported to forage across the world for energy resources and raw materials on behalf of the Chinese government and covertly plot to sabotage the national security of those who receive their investments.

The scary yet sham character sketch has been successful in barring a string of Chinese companies from engaging in legitimate investment activities in foreign lands.

The U.S. House Intelligence Committee warned in an October report that the equipment supplied by two Chinese telecom firms, Huawei Technologies and ZTE, could be manipulated by Beijing for espionage purposes.

Days later, an 18-month review ordered by the White House unearthed no clear evidence that could prove the two firms had once spied for China.

Still, the damage done by the unwarranted accusations could well overshadow the Chinese telecom equipment provider's future overseas business moves.

If stricter and more prudent examination measures are taken to scrutinize foreign capital in key infrastructure areas is somewhat tenable, then it is totally unjustifiable in cases like the recent stalled bid by a Chinese firm for a tourism project in Iceland, in which security concerns were once again played up by local commentators.

Besides investment impediments, the volume of trade disputes between China and the Western powers has also been growing over the years.

One explanation behind the investment obstruction and trade frictions lies in the developed world's poor adaptability and fears for a fast expanding Chinese economy that is with vast ideological, political and cultural differences.

Waves of political opposition against the dangerous outcome that could be brought about if a "communist China" controlled Australia's mineral resources helped to kill the takeover deal between China's Chalco and Australia's Rio Tinto at the last minute in 2009.

In this case, these free-market-believing politicians suddenly became admirers for government's magic and powerful hand.

However, it seems that there is not a single case worldwide in which a country's national security has been jeopardized because of Chinese investment.

In fact, national security is no more than a one-size-fits-all rap the Western powers could use whenever a Chinese company tried to invest in their territory.

The slack economic performance and weak recovery prospects in the United States and the euro-zone has also made those nations believe that it is necessary to flesh out protectionist measures.

Still, the Western countries, which equate Chinese investments to threats, should have to be well aware that in an age of economic globalization there's no such a thing as a zero-sum game because all countries are bound to win or lose together.

Those countries also need to know that protectionism could only paralyze global free trade and no one would win in a possible trade war if protectionist moves could not be contained.

"Give Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and to God the things which are God's," a Western saying goes.

To promote fairness in their biased marketplaces, the Western powers that harbor China-investment-phobias should first drop their prejudice towards Chinese companies and let their entrepreneurs, not politicians,decide the business deals with their Chinese counterparts.

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