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Vol 2 (AAC) No 7

Published 1st May 2009

Not the promised land

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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