Strategic Canada-China Energy Partnership in the Pipeline

Addressing nearly six hundred Canadian and Chinese businesses leaders in the city of Guangzhou earlier this week, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper conveyed the message that Canada is keen to sell oil and gas to China, but is not prepared to abandon its principles in the process. He was also very direct in targeting groups opposed to the development of Canada’s energy resources, stating that the Canadian government will always put the country’s economic interest ahead of what he called “foreign money and influence” that may try to obstruct the increased production of petroleum. Prime Minister Harper also made it clear that he envisions a new era in a strategic Canada-China energy partnership with the establishment of the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.

He assured his listeners that the Canadian government is committed to ensuring that the country has the necessary infrastructure to move its energy resources to new and diversified markets. With a number of top US media outlets covering the speech he was delivering in one of China’s largest cities, Harper used the opportunity to remind the United States that if they are not in the market for Canada’s oils and crude, China was. At the same time he reportedly made it clear that in order to forge strong trading ties, Canadian authorities expect China to be a responsible global citizen and address problematic human rights issues.

Harper noted that Canada is keen to boost bilateral trade with China, and with the latter in need of energy resources to fuel its rapid growth, this would be one of the avenues to pursue. His comment regarding the abundant supplies of virtually every form of energy, and the country’s wish to sell this energy to those who want to buy it, was met with applause from the audience.

p>With his speech coming at the end of a fruitful four-day visit to China, Prime Minister Harper had reportedly been much more forthright about human rights concerns during private meetings with Chinese authorities, including Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao. Governor of the Guangdong Province, Zhu Xiaodan, confirmed that the region he is responsible for consumes a huge amount of energy and is looking for a supplier to assist in meeting these needs.

Canada’s $5.5 billion Northern Gateway pipeline project is currently being reviewed by the National Energy Board and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency with a view to being up and running by 2017. However, the project is facing significant and increasing opposition from environmental groups and First Nations communities who are concerned with the environmental hazards that are likely to accompany the project.