The election of a sitting member of China’s National People’s Congress to Teck Resources’ board of directors has sparked a debate over whether the Canadian resource sector is being opened to influence from a foreign government.
For Dermod Travis at watchdog group Integrity B.C., the move “raises some very serious questions about whether or not representatives, elected or appointed, of a foreign government, regardless of the country, should be sitting on the boards of Canadian public companies.”
Company shareholders elected Quan Chong, a longtime senior trade official for China — and also a deputy to the National People’s Congress — to its 14-member board of directors at its annual general meeting in April, but Travis only found out in recent weeks while researching B.C. public companies and their donations to political parties.
China experts say the title of deputy to the NPC is largely ceremonial and honorific, although the Chinese government on its website declares the NPC to be the “supreme organ of state power.”
It is that characterization that causes Travis to question whether the Chinese government could use a board position to pressure a Canadian resource company over issues such as the use of temporary foreign workers or the pace of a firm’s resource development.
Chong represents the interests of Fullbloom Investment Corp., a subsidiary of the China Investment Corp., which owns a 17-per-cent stake in Teck’s B-class shares, giving it control over 6.8 per cent of shareholder votes.
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