Monday, June 23, 2008

The scramble for Africa: Picard edition

So a few weeks ago, this story ran on Reuters:
GENEVA (Reuters) - China is drawing on natural resources such as farm land, timber and water twice as fast as they can be renewed in its drive for development, a report from Chinese and international environmentalists said on Tuesday.

The report said the next 20 years would be critical to correct the situation and put the Asian giant's burgeoning economy, with a rapidly growing population, on to a sustainable path.

"China's average ecological footprint has doubled since the 1960s and now demands more than two times what the country's ecosystems can sustainably supply," said a summary of the report, issued by the Swiss-based WWF International.
So, with China in short supply of square meters, what to do? Oh, I'm sure this won't end badly...'
China’s growing demand for food and the rapid shrinking of available arable land in China itself due to environmental degradation and urbanization have made finding new agricultural lands an urgent priority for the Chinese government....

China’s search for new land has led Beijing to aggressively seek large land leases in Mozambique over the past two years, particularly in its most fertile areas, such as the Zambezi valley in the north and the Limpopo valley in the south.
Chinese interest in the Zambezi valley started in mid-2006, when the Chinese state owned Exibank granted $2 billion in soft loans to the Mozambican government to build the Mpanda Nkua mega-dam on the stretch of the Zambezi in Tete province. Since then, China has been requesting large land leases to establish Chinese-run mega-farms and cattle ranches. A memorandum of understanding was reported to have been signed in June 2007, allowing an initial 3,000 Chinese settlers to move to Zambezia and Tete provinces to run farms along the valley. A Mozambican official said the number could eventually grow to up to 10,000. However, the reports of this deal caused such an uproar that the Mozambique government was forced to dismiss the whole story as false.
Hmmm. Rapidly industrializing powers arranging sweet deals in the poorest regions of the world to secure the scarce resources they crave for further economic growth? Nope, doesn't ring a bell...

1 comment:

ldk said...

"The report said the next 20 years would be critical to correct the situation and put the Asian giant's burgeoning economy, with a rapidly growing population, on to a sustainable path."

I'm having trouble understanding how china can be expected to achieve environmentally sustainable growth when the richest 7 countries in the world have not.