Sleeping with giants

Sleeping with giants I think one thing that should be made clear in various articles relating to courting investment from China is that China is in this game big time, and has been for decades. They have a clear goal and a clear strategy when it comes to

I think one thing that should be made clear in various articles relating to courting investment from China is that China is in this game big time, and has been for decades. They have a clear goal and a clear strategy when it comes to “investing” in a given area and in a given resource base.

They are on a global quest for raw resources. What the actual view of the end game is from the Chinese government’s perspective is less clear, but one thing is certain: they want raw resources, they want as much as they can get and are willing to pay top dollar as well as invest in local infrastructure to get it.

China is not on some global humanitarian mission here. They know what they want and know that their cause is better served by appearing as a co-operative partner in investment rather than a hectoring superpower bent on taking what they want, whatever the cost to local society and environment. But don’t ever forget that what we might want is secondary to what they want all day long.

China has a huge population to support – so huge that in order to give the majority of that population a lifestyle even slightly above poverty they have to make large and ongoing efforts to develop their own infrastructure. A placated populace is one that is less likely to be inclined to rise up in a revolutionary fashion.

Please note the parallel between how China deals with potential purveyors of resources and its own population. Also consider that China has an ongoing history of human rights issues, CO2 emissions second to none and environmental problems to a degree that photosynthesis is reduced by 20 per cent in some agricultural areas because emissions from burning coal have actually blocked the sun. The list goes on. Google it.

I think the question we have to ask ourselves is: do we want to expose ourselves and our territory to the giant that is China? China has very deep pockets and has vast resources at its disposal, resources in monetary form that make our annual federal transfer payments look like pocket change. Truly a David and Goliath scenario if there ever was one.

Maybe we do want to invite China’s investment here and maybe we don’t, but if we do we should be prepared to see our territory change forever from the quiet, relatively unspoiled jewel that it is into whatever we are willing to trade it for in the form of money and infrastructure improvements. But consider, once the money is spent, and the infrastructure has run its span of usefulness, what are we left with?

The Yukon is what it is because it is viewed by those in the know as a largely unexploited and unspoiled land of vast riches, both tangible and intangible. What will it be after sleeping with giants?

Bob Foster


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