Kenny Zhang was the keynote speaker at a luncheon to talk about Chinese investment in Canada

Canadians must adjust to new global economic realities

Asia Pacific expert says Chinese investment in Canada is growing and Canadians should embrace it.

An analyst with the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, an independent think tank that looks at relations between Canada and Asia, says Chinese investment in this country is happening whether we like it or not.

So Kenny Zhang says Canadians should embrace the Eastern tiger economy.

“China will invest regardless,” Zhang said following a presentation to the CFA Society Okanagan in Kelowna Thursday.

The CFA Society represents investment professionals around the world.

“If Canadians say no, China will just go to Australia and if it says no, China will just go to the U.S. and if the U.S. says no, China will invest in Africa.”

He said while research by the Asia Pacific Foundation has shown that Canadians are very wary of Chinese investment in Canada, particularly by state operated entities because of issues like China’s human rights record and environmental standards, that is not stopping a growing amount of investment in this country by Chinese corporations.

While diversified in their investments, Zhang said the Chinese are focused on resources and as such have bought into some very large Canadian energy companies.

The largest so far has been the February 2013, $15.5-billion purchase of Calgary-based oil and gas company Nexen by China’s CNOOC Ltd.

The company is involved in the Alberta Oil Sands.

“As a business community here (in Canada) we need to partner with Chinese business to benefit (from Chinese investment),” Zhang told the meeting.

During his presentation, Zhang talked about the meteoric rise in the amount of Chinese investment outside of China in the last 10 years.

He said currently, the country—through state owned entities, as well as private corporations—has an investment in Canada of about $70 billion.

While that is not considered large, it is growing and has shot up since 2006.

He said in addition to state-owned operations investing here, private companies from China are also ploughing money  into Canada—in some cases in large amounts—but he called them “ghosts.”

You would never know it,” he said adding some of the investments, while large, are kept very quiet.

He used an example of a multi-million investment in a gold mining operation in the Yukon that has garnered little publicity.

“Generally you wouldn’t even know they are there.”

Zhang said unlike North American business leaders, the people in charge of Chinese state-owned corporations are under even greater pressure for their investments to pay off.

That’s because success can equal advancement through the political system in that country, as well as in the business reward, he said.

“I would suggest Canada and China get together at all levels—government to government, business to business and individual to individual,” said Zhang.