It's "curious" that a country that is the fourth-largest recipient of Canadian aid
is buying Canada's largest mining company...
The state-owned Chinese firm profits from goods made by Chinese prisoners
who earn no wages and are beaten and deprived of food if their production falters.


"Mining is a common Laogai activity," said a spokesman from AFL/CIO...
A Chinese-speaking Excel official who went to the manufacturing plant in China
realized it was a prison. The plant was surrounded by armed guards
and a fence topped with electrical wires.

Noranda's suitor cited in Labour case
China's Minmetals Corp
Human rights record could not block takeover
by Peter O'Neil, National Post, Oct 5, 2004

Ottawa - The state-owned Chinese firm involved in the $7-billion-plus negotiations to buy Noranda Inc., Canada's largest mining firm, was accused during U.S. congressional hearings and a civil court case during the 1990s of profiting from forced labour in China's prisons. Chinese dissident Harry Wu, who led the attack against China Minmetals Corp. in Congress, said yesterday he still believes the trading company deals internatinally in goods made by Chinese prisoners who earn no wages and are beaten and deprived of food if their production falters.

"Minmetals is a state-owned import-export company, and when it exports products from China, some of them, many of them, are made with forced labour," Mr. Wu said yesterday from his office in Washington, D.C. Mr. Wu, in his testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1997, cited evidence from a civil suit in California involving a U.S. company, Excel Industries, and MM Rotors, a U.S. subsidiary of China Minmetals that sold brake rotors. A Chinese-speaking Excel official testified in that case that he went to the manufacturing plant in China and realized it was a prison - a sign identified it as such, and the plant was surrounded by armed guards and a fence topped with electrical wires. "This is further evidence that the Chinese government has no intention of preventing the export of Laogai goods," Mr. Wu told senators, using the Chinese term Laogai for what he calls a "gulag" prison system.

A U.S. union official, who like Mr. Wu singled out China Minmetals in his 1997 testimony before the same committee, said yesterday the U.S. government has failed to take action against imported Chinese products made with prison labour in violation of U.S. law. Finding clear evidence, in the face of Chinese denials and lack of access to the prison system, is one key impediment.

"Mining is a common Laogai activity," said Jeffrey Fielder of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, a federation of 60 national and international labour unions. "But being able to prove that would require a considerable [amount] of dangerous work inside China." A U.S. State Department report issued last year also cited "serious" concerns about forced labour and said the Chinese government wasn't co-operating with U.S. officials to determine if goods exported to the United States came from the camps.

Mr. Wu, Mr. Fielder and Liberal MP David Kilgour, former secretary of state for Asia-Pacific, questioned yesterday whether it is in Canada's interests to support the Noranda takeover given its direct links to a Communist dictatorship. "The purchase price will come from China's ballooning foreign exchange reserves - now more than US$740-billion - which have been created in large measure by exploiting its labour force through artificially low wages," Mr. Kilgour said. He said he finds it "curious" that a country that is the fourth-largest recipient of Canadian aid is buying Canada's largest mining company, and expressed concern with the likely conduct of Chinese firms abroad. "Does China Minmetals embrace the principles of corporate social responsibility, including good treatment of its employees and the natural environment, respect for human rights and so on?"...

The Vancouver Sun was unsuccessful in its attempt to contact China Minmetals in Beijing, and the Chinese embassy in Ottawa and the Chinese consulate in Vancouver. A man who answered the phone in Vancouver said the missions were closed due to a Chinese holiday.

An executive with Noranda said the proposed takeover is being unfairly exploited by Mr. Wu and other critics. "Those people are just piggy-backing on our business transaction to achieve their own agenda," said Denis Couture. "It's not for the benefit of either China Minmetals or Noranda or Canada's or China's." He said Noranda has already spoken to union leaders who represent its workers, pointing out that Canada's labour, environmental, governance and disclosure laws remain in place even if the company's owner is China's Communist government. While Mr. Couture said he was unaware of the forced labour issue, a U.S. State Department report released last year indicated the practice that Mr. Wu estimates involves eight million Chinese prisoners.

"Forced labour in prison facilities remained a serious problem," the annual report for 2002 concluded. "At the Xinhua Reeducation-Through-Labour Camp in Sichuan Province, inmates were forced to work up to 16 hours per day breaking rocks or making bricks, according to credible reports. Former inmates reported that there were several deaths from overwork, poor medical care, and beatings by guards in 2000. The report cites China-U.S. agreements signed in 1992 and 1994 allowing American officials to visit prison production facilities. "Since these agreements were signed, the Government's co-operation with U.S. officials has been poor. Between 1997 and 2001, the Government allowed U.S. officials to conduct only one visit to a prison labor facility."

CHINA'S TORTURED DISSIDENTS (reader oppressed by CCP) & Doing business with Communist China (tortures millions of dissidents). CanadaFreePress, Dec 3, 2007


China's disquieting bid for Noranda. Toronto Star, Oct 5, 2004
...China Minmetals Corp., a state-owned conglomerate, is negotiating to buy Noranda from Brascan Corp. and other shareholders for $7 billion. It would be Beijing's largest foreign takeover, dwarfing its entire direct investment in Canada of $400 million last year, and of our $540 million in China. The deal will give Beijing control of a venerable Canadian mining firm, 15,000 jobs worldwide and strategically vital deposits of zinc, nickel, copper and other minerals. Noranda also controls Falconbridge Ltd. This is a purchase which Prime Minister Paul Martin's government must scrutinize closely...The deal has much broader political and policy implications. Foreign acquisitions are one aspect of China's drive to become a global political, economic and military superpower. Yet China remains essentially a one-party state, dominated by a tiny Communist party elite. Unlike other multinational corporations, Minmetals does not answer to shareholders, in many countries. It answers directly to the government. That must be a concern, and not just for business reasons.

The Beijing leadership uses whatever leverage it has to stifle criticism of China at the United Nations or elsewhere on topics ranging from Beijing's aversion to democracy to its rough handling of the Tiananmen Square protesters, to its suppression of Falun Gong, its occupation of Tibet, and relations with Hong Kong and Taiwan. Canadian prime ministers, including Jean Chrétien, have been criticized in the past for soft-pedalling our principled concern about some of China's failings for fear of jeopardizing trade. How much extra pressure would Ottawa be under if Beijing were a significant direct employer here?. Do we want Beijing making political demands of us, while holding Canadian jobs hostage?...The Minmetals deal is a caution against permitting any purchases of major assets by foreign governments or their direct agents...Under Pierre Trudeau, we were among the first states to recognize the Communists back in 1970...Investment Canada, a federal agency, has a duty to vet foreign investment to ensure there is "net benefit" to us...Allowing foreign governments to buy up — in effect, nationalize — our companies and our economy is something else entirely...


Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~