China is not pushing to expand overseas farming and Chinese companies are less active in their investment abroad because of concerns of potential political risks, a senior Agriculture Ministry official said March 3.
To meet a perennial shortfall in soybean supply, China, the world’s largest soy importer, will continue to import from major growing countries such as the United States, the largest exporter, rather than seeking to buy up farmland outside China, said Qian Keming, market economics director at the ministry.
“There are misunderstandings from some countries about Chinese companies’ overseas farming,” Qian told reporters on the sidelines of the meeting of parliament’s advisory body.
“The Chinese government is not pushing for it. If there are requests by some countries, we would like to assist,” said Qian.
He said Chinese companies growing grains overseas were doing so just to make money and without official encouragement, not to ship them back to China because of food security concerns.
As well as soybeans, he said China would keep importing some high-quality wheat which it can’t grow domestically.
Qian, formerly head of the ministry’s Agricultural Trade Promotion Centre, said some Chinese companies engaged in farming overseas had encountered opposition from local politicians and local society.
“Chinese companies are less active now. There are huge political risks.”
Qian said the Chinese government had helped less-developed countries in Africa, South America and Southeast Asia with its technology and know-how in growing grains.
“We use our experience, technology and talented people to help these countries to boost grain production for mutual benefits,” said Qian.
He said China, which aims at 95 per cent self-sufficiency in its grain supply, would like to import some crops which it lacks.
“We will keep normal trade with major exporting countries and continue to import soybeans from the United States, Brazil and Argentina,” he said.
“It does not make sense to grow soybeans in Africa or elsewhere and then ship them back home. It is cheaper to buy from these major exporting countries,” he said.