China would not be taking up tracts of land in Africa to meet
its domestic food requirements insisted Beijing's Deputy Agriculture
Minister Niu Dun in April, but reports on the ground suggest
that Chinese companies are rapidly expanding agricultural investment
projects. Deputy Minister Niu's public statement reflects pressure
from Chinese nationalists, who see the country's dependence on food imports as a strategic weakness, and from African activists, who argue it represents a Chinese imitation of Western neocolonial commercial arrangements. Niu distinguished between China's needs and those of South Korea, following the collapse of Daewoo's bids to secure production rights over half of Madagascar's arable land. In fact, China's needs are much greater and politically urgent than South Korea's.
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