- Jun 3, 2003
- West of Rhode Island
Chinese bid for Unocal draws quick, high-powered criticism
quote:[ June 24, 2005, 03:54 PM: Message edited by: 59 Vetteman ]
Two former CIA directors and a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff sounded the alarm Thursday about the proposed purchase of U.S. oil company Unocal by a Chinese government-controlled firm. The critics included top-level members of the Reagan, first Bush and Clinton administrations. The China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC), China's third-largest oil producer, made a hostile $18.5 billion bid Thursday for Unocal. It's the communist nation's most ambitious attempt to acquire a Western company and sets up a possible showdown with U.S. politicians over national security. Robert Gates, who served as director of the CIA under the first president Bush said, "It does cause me some concern" and added that "it's part of a broad-based effort" by the Chinese to gain a foothold in the U.S. economy. His concerns were echoed by James Woolsey, who served as CIA director under President Clinton. "This is a conscious long-term effort to take over ... as much of the American economy as possible," he said. Also criticizing the move were retired Gen. P.X. Kelley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Ronald Reagan, and Carol Browner, who was the EPA Administrator in the Clinton administration. They all appeared at an energy policy discussion in Washington sponsored by two private groups. The only dissenter was Richard Haass, who was president of the Council of Foreign Relations and was a top-ranking State Department official under former president Bush. Haass said that allowing a Chinese company to buy into an American firm would "make China more of a capitalist player." The offer by Chinese state-owned CNOOC comes amid a flurry of foreign oil and gas deals by China as its government, facing stagnant production at home, tries to secure energy abroad for its booming economy, already the world's third-biggest oil importer behind Japan and the USA. The offer sets up a possible takeover battle with Chevron, which has proposed to buy Unocal for a lower price of $16.6 billion — a deal Unocal's board already accepted. Until recently, foreign hostile takeovers by Chinese companies were almost unheard of. The shift reflects China's new willingness to adopt Wall Street's more aggressive tactics. Unocal, the ninth-biggest U.S. oil company, said it would evaluate the CNOOC offer but that its board's recommendation to accept the Chevron offer remained in place.