The reorientation of Chinese agriculture to an export-centric model is creating unprecedented domestic growth, but there may be a hidden cost to developing nations.
A new piece on Der Spiegel has brought to light some of the issues surrounding the growth of China’s agricultural export industry. Aside from problematic issues typically associated with Chinese goods in the West—cheap labor, environmental degradation, lax quality control—the article also mentions the sector’s impact on the Chinese populace and beyond.
An aggressive courting of foreign markets might seem a strange tactic for a country whose own citizens struggle with food security. In order to supply the market as well as its own population, China has become one of the largest importers of food stuffs. Along with food imports, China has sought food security through foreign farm land acquisition throughout the developing world. Developing nations might enjoy short term benefits but there are larger, long-term concerns. Disputes, such as those over water rights, cut to the core of national sovereignty, pitting local populations against foreign rights holders. When you add in China’s questionable record in the world of development, you’ve got a recipe for long-term headaches in China's foreign policy toward other developing countries.
China’s growth as a part of the global economy has brought lower prices and economic benefit to many. However, this particular success may be coming at a price not all of us are willing to pay.