A Chinese government anticorruption investigation that already has swept aside dozens of officials is now stretching into Canada.
A shake-up has hit state-run China National Petroleum Corp.’s Canadian operations and a billion-dollar oil-sands project is now in limbo. As the WSJ’s Chester Dawson, Alistair MacDonald and Brian Spegele report:
The head of a key China National Petroleum subsidiary was recalled to Beijing last month and has since fallen from public view, according to people familiar with the matter. Also in recent weeks, an email announced the replacement of China National Petroleum’s top representative in Canada. The two are being succeeded by a single executive dispatched from Beijing who will play senior roles at both units, according to emails reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
Canadian authorities are aware of “these investigations being conducted by Chinese authorities into Chinese officials,” a government official familiar with the matter said. “At this point there is no reason to believe that any Canadians are involved or being investigated,” the official said.
The shuffling provides a glimpse into the unexpected impact that Beijing’s graft probe, which has hit China National Petroleum particularly hard, is having on efforts to exploit the world’s third-largest oil reserve. The two Chinese executives who recently left their posts helped to make billions of dollars worth of investment commitments. Both were board members of trade organizations in energy-rich Alberta and had enough clout to summon meetings with senior Canadian lawmakers at short notice.
The corruption crackdown that China’s Communist leadership launched in late 2012 has reached into government bureaucracies and state-run companies. China National Petroleum has been a target, with at least a half-dozen current and former executives detained.Many of those worked for or had ties to now-retired political leader Zhou Yongkang , who once ran China National Petroleum before rising to the inner circle of the Chinese leadership.
One of the figures apparently caught up in the crackdown is Margaret Jia, chief Canada representative for CNPC and Zhou Yongkang’s sister-in-law. She has disappeared from public view since being summoned back to Beijing last month and sending an email that said she was stepping down from her post at CNPC.