The appointment of a Chinese government official to the board of a B.C.-based mining company is raising concerns about sovereignty in the resource sector in some quarters. 

But a foreign affairs expert says it's a common practice in other countries and there's no reason to worry.

Teck Resources recently appointed Quan Chong, an international trade expert and sitting member of the National People's Congress of China, to its 14-member board. 

Quan Chong

Quan Chong has an extensive resumé working in international trade, according to Teck Resources. (Teck Resources)

"When I saw this, it completely jumped out. It is wrong at so many levels," said Dermod Travis with Integrity B.C. 

"I think we need to look at how we engage with foreign entities, whether they're governments or companies, in terms of buying our natural resources and ensure we are not also giving up part of our boardroom sovereignty." 

Jamie Kneen with Mining Watch says Canada has conflict of interest rules preventing sitting politicians from being appointed to boards like Teck.

"And there's good reason for that, because governments make decisions that have direct effect on their business — favourable or negative," Kneen said.  

Common global practice

But the director of UBC's Institute of Asian Research, Yves Tiberghien, says there's no cause for alarm.

"A lot of people are appointed to the [National People's Congress] as an honourary token of respect," he said. "It's not like a Parliament of Canada that actually governs."

Tiberghien says Chong would have been appointed to the NPC to mark his former roles with China's Ministry of Foreign Trade and the Department of Foreign Affairs.

While it's not common practice in Canada, Tiberghien said it's common practice in countries like Japan and France to have retired foreign officials on company boards. 

"It's tremendous intelligence, especially for market access," said Tiberghien, adding that China is Teck's main market in Asia. 

"Having someone with that kind of knowledge and experience is very useful."

The sentiment was echoed in an email Teck Resources sent to CBC. 

"Quan Chong,'s knowledge of China and international trade make him a strong addition to the knowledge base of our board," said the company.

With files from Bob Keating and Maryse Zeidler