Salmond’s China deals under fire
CHINESE oil companies alleged to have been complicit in genocide are being targeted by the Scottish Government for business deals.
A key aim of an official plan to strengthen links between Scotland and China is “building close relations” with two controversial energy firms called PetroChina and Sinopec.
PetroChina recently signed a deal to refine oil at Grangemouth while China’s top refiner Sinopec acquired a £0.9 bilion stake in the North Sea.
But both corporations have been accused of bank-rolling the Sudanese government’s reign of terror over its people in Darfur, which resulted in the deaths of at least 300,000 people and the displacement of some 2.7 million people. They have also been accused of human rights abuses in Burma.
In January, the world’s third largest pension fund, ABP Investments, blacklisted PetroChina for non-compliance with the United Nations’ Global Compact Principles, which prevents corporations from taking part in unethical and illegal behaviour. ABP said it would no longer invest in PetroChina because of “the activities of its parent company China National Petroleum Company (CNPC) in Sudan and Burma”.
Human rights campaigners and opposition politicians last night questioned whether the SNP Government should be encouraging business deals with the Chinese companies.
Shabnum Mustapha, director of Amnesty International Scotland, said: “It is vital that Scotland does not trade away human rights in its pursuit of economic gain. Governments and companies across the world have a duty to ensure that development does not have an adverse impact on human rights, with governments holding companies to account for any such violations.”
Patrick Harvie, Green MSP for Glasgow, said: “The Scottish Government shouldn’t be touching these companies with a barge pole. It’s utterly hypocritical of the SNP leadership to offer platitudes about human rights while doing deals which leave their own words ringing so hollow. SNP ministers are sending an appalling signal that Scotland is open for business regardless of ethics. Instead of doing deals for pandas and fossil fuels our First Minister should be taking a much tougher line with China and its industries on human rights.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie MSP said: “If this is the case, it is deeply concerning. I would urge the Scottish Government to lead an inquiry into these companies to ensure compliance with human rights legislation.”
An objective of the Scottish Government’s Plan for Engagement with China is: “Building close relations with key Chinese energy companies and their subsidiaries (especially China National Offshore Oil Corporation, Sinopec & PetroChina) to promote Scottish oil and gas expertise.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We condemn all human rights abuses wherever they take place in the world, and we address human rights issues as part of our overall engagement with China.”
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