On world politics, globalization, development, energy security, East Asia, Canadian foreign policy ...
Sunday, January 24, 2010
I am in the process of resuming my blog. For those who would like to see my profile, my academic and media related publications, and other public works during my tenure as the founding director of the China Institute at the University of Alberta from 2005 to 2008, please visit the following website:
A Chinese Google user presents flowers to the Google China headquarters in Beijing on Wednesday.
On January 13, 2010, Dr. Wenran Jiang was quoted in the Christian Science Monitor on Google’s recent dramatic threat to close its business in China unless the authorities allow it to provide uncensored search results throws into stark relief the limits to globalization.
Dr. Jiang notes that China’s leaders use their tight control over information as a key tool with which to shore up their power. They see the Internet as a potentially dangerous conduit of information that “Western subversive forces” use to foment dissatisfaction in restive parts of the country such as Tibet and Xinjiang.
Since ethnic riots in the Xinjiang capital, Urumuqi, killed more than 200 people last June, Internet access has been all but cut off in the region. Social-networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have been blocked throughout the country.
Wenran predicts that while Beijing accepted international trade rules to join the World Trade Organization and a globalized economy, it will not adopt international standards on information freedom any time soon.
“In the long run, they cannot control information, and they will have to find ways to accommodate dissident views,” Wenran says. “But at the moment, they have no other way but censorship."
On January 6, 2010, Dr. Wenran Jiang was quoted by the Canadian Press on the recent breakdown of PetroChina's deal to invest in a US$40-billion Australian natural gas project and the message it sent to Canada. For Dr. Jiang, it shows that Chinese national oil companies are getting more sophisticated in dealing with the international market, and resource-rich countries like Canada can't sit idly by and wait for Chinese investment to roll in.
The deal would have seen the Chinese state-owned firm buy up to three million tonnes of liquefied natural gas per year from the Australian offshore project for up to two decades.
While PetroChina did not immediately offer an explanation for its move Tuesday, observers said the Australian project likely lost some of its financial appeal since it was first conceived in Sept. 2007.
"You can see that when the market is not that favourable, they just drop it like that," said Dr. Jiang.
The federal government on Tuesday gave the go-ahead for PetroChina to buy a $1.9-billion stake in a pair of oilsands projects in northeast Alberta in what observers are saying herald warming trade ties between the two countries.
Dr. Wenran Jiang said the deal marks a turnaround in policy on the part of the Harper government who had previously been critical of the communist country’s human rights record.
A series of high-profile visits by Canadian officials in recent months, including a state visit by the Prime Minister himself, has rekindled the once-chilly relationship leading to greater confidence on the part of the Chinese to invest in Canada.
“It’s a very small number, but it’s big for Canada,” Wenran said in an interview. “The Chinese recognize there has been a major policy shift. Expect more Chinese investment in the resource and energy sectors ... there will definitely be more.”
On December 12, 2008, I was quoted by Ontarion newspaper Business Edge on a proposal calling for the creation of a single identification-card system that can be used by frequent business travellers in both North America and Asia.
I noted that this new system would be a welcome step for travellers as it could reduce the stress associated with customs clearance.
On November 26 and December 1, 2009, Dr. Wenran Jiang was quoted in sohu.com and the China Daily commenting on Prime Minister Stephen Harper's visit to China. Dr. Jiang says this visit will renew ties between both countries and establish new trade opportunities.