The chairman of CNOOC Ltd., the Chinese energy firm embroiled in a thorny campaign to purchase the U.S. oil company Unocal Corp., voiced dismay on Wednesday over what he called “overreaction” from Washington by those portraying the deal as a threat to fair trade and U.S. national security.
In an interview with The Washington Post at CNOOC’s headquarters in Beijing, Chairman Fu Chengyu said critics of his company’s bid for Unocal were guilty of viewing China through an outdated lens by failing to appreciate how economic reforms have forced Chinese companies to adopt market principles and focus on profitability.
“They don’t understand what has happened in China in the last 20 years,” said Fu, speaking fluent if halting English. “Most of the concerns are related to politics and not the commercial side. I didn’t expect that so many people would be so sensitive to this. We are following a system that was set up by Western leading companies, especially the United States. We are walking along a path that they paved, so we thought, ‘This is natural.’ ” But Fu expressed confidence that CNOOC would eventually convince critics that its acquisition poses no menace. He said his company might consider upping its $18.5 billion bid if needed.