In November 2006, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper rightly stated that while “Canadians want us to promote our trade relations worldwide … I don’t think Canadians want us to sell out important Canadian values.” Prime Minister Harper promised that Canada would not “sell out” Canadian principles to the “almighty dollar.” Sadly, at the end of 2012, the Canadian government signalled its willingness to do just that, first by approving the takeover of the Canadian energy company Nexen by a state-owned Chinese company, and then by unveiling the Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement (FIPA).
The Chinese government continues to systematically violate the most basic freedoms of its people, and in particular the rights of religious minorities. In 2012, government authorities continued their campaign of widespread arrests in an attempt to eradicate the house church movement in China. In official documents obtained by human rights organizations, the Chinese government has also adopted a clear policy designed to crack down on expressions of Christianity on university campuses. Far from being limited to the Christian community, the persecution by the Chinese government has also targeted other religious minorities such as the Uyghurs and Falun Gong. In what is but one example of the horrific treatment of religious minorities, Chinese authorities have detained hundreds of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners, several thousand of whom have been killed in order to harvest their organs.
Despite these egregious human rights violations, in December 2012 the Canadian government approved the takeover of Nexen Inc. by the state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC). Critics have rightly pointed to the economic dangers of giving up control of Canadian natural resources to foreign interests. However, even more important than the economic ramifications is the willingness by the Canadian government to turn a blind eye to human rights abuses. In addition to the general human rights violations by the Chinese government outlined above, our sources within the Falun Gong community indicate that CNOOC directly participated in the persecution of over 100 Falun Gong practitioners employed in several of its branches within China. While the takeover has received final approval in Canada, the deal cannot be completed without the approval of the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment and, ultimately, President Barack Obama. Therefore, we are calling on all our partners and supporters in the United States to make their voices heard in opposition to this deal.
Of even greater concern is the Canada-China FIPA, which could be officially ratified any day without any public debate through an Order-in-council by the Canadian cabinet. The dangers of this deal to Canadian sovereignty are well-documented. Not only would this agreement prevent the Canadian parliament from enacting public policy measures that may affect Chinese investment interests in Canada, it would also expose the Canadian people to secretive arbitration awards handed down by arbitrators unaccountable to Canadian courts or the Canadian people. More importantly, however, the FIPA, which does not contain any mention of human rights, let alone substantive human rights provisions, sends a clear message to China and the international community that Canadian human rights values are indeed ‘for sale.’
The government of Canada cannot allow the issue of religious persecution to be lost among the myriad of other matters informing its policy decisions. While we understand the economic realities facing the Canadian government and the need to attract foreign investment, Canada
must take a stand and make clear by its actions, not only its words, that it will not overlook the suffering of religious minorities around the world. We believe that Prime Minister Harper and the Canadian government are concerned about the human rights violations against minorities in China. However, these two decisions are troubling and send a dangerous message to both the Chinese government and the international community. Therefore, we call on the Canadian government not to ratify the FIPA with China and make it clear to the world that Canada will not conduct ‘business-as-usual’ with countries that violate the fundamental human rights of its citizens.
Please take a few moments from your day to join us in speaking out against these harmful decisions to “sell out” our Canadian values in the pursuit of economic gain. Your prayers, letters, and financial support are vitally important as we strive to hold our government accountable for its failure to stand up for the rights of vulnerable minorities. Make your voice heard today, and let your leaders know that you refuse to accept that everything ‘Made in China’ includes our human conscience and values!
• for our political leaders, that they will have the courage to stand for truth and justice. Pray that they will not give in to pressure from economic interest groups, but that they will use their position and voice to fight for the rights of the oppressed;
• that those persecuting religious minorities in China would come to realize the wrongfulness of their acts and that they would seek the love and forgiveness of God and in turn apply their energies toward spreading peace rather than violence;
• that the Lord will give the Chinese Christians the ability to forgive even when they are under constant persecution. Pray that the Christians would filled with God’s love and grace even towards their persecutors;
• for the Chinese people as a whole, that they would be united and find true peace and meaning in the Prince of Peace.
The Bible teaches that faith without action is dead, so please take action urgently and write (contact details are included below):
• to the Canadian Minister of International Trade and the Minister of Industry, calling on them not to proceed with the ratification of the FIPA with China until the concerns of the Canadian people are addressed, and insisting that any deal with China include conditions relating to the human rights of religious minorities;
• to the Canadian Prime Minister directly, urging him not to sell out our Canadian principles and values by ratifying an unconditional agreement with China that undermines Canada’s commitment to fundamental human rights, along with Canadian sovereignty;
• to the United States Ambassador to Canada, urging the United States government to stand up for the human rights of religious minorities in China and block the Nexen takeover by CNOOC.
In the United States:
• to the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment, urging them to take a stand against this attempt by the Chinese government to gain influence in the North American energy market and block the Nexen takeover by CNOOC;
• to the President of the United States, urging him to intervene and take a stand for the human rights of religious minorities in China and block the Nexen takeover by CNOOC.
Please remember to send us a copy of your correspondence at:
Remember that the persecuted Christians are dying every day, but they are still smiling. They are in a very deep dark night, but they have the candle of the Lord. The enemy can have a very strong weapon and a very strong army, but we have the Lord Almighty.
“They can kill the dreamer, but they cannot kill the dream” in the Lord’s name.