China refutes 'land grab' claims in Africa

Updated: 2011-12-08 19:26


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BEIJING - China on Thursday refuted claims that it has been buying up land in Africa, calling for "concrete" efforts to help the continent's agricultural sector develop in a sustainable way.

"China always seeks food self-sufficiency through its own domestic output," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a regular press briefing.

Instead of grabbing land in Africa, China has been providing as much technical assistance as it can to help develop agriculture there and enhance the continent's capability of using its natural resources and addressing issues such as climate change and food security, Hong said.

"Those efforts are welcomed by the African nations," he added.

In response to a question on neo-colonialism, Hong said that "there is indeed neo-colonialism in Africa, but absolutely not from China." The spokesman did not identify which countries are the neo-colonialists.

"African countries have widely reached a consensus on this issue," Hong said, quoting South African President Jacob Zuma who had said that describing China's engagement with Africa as "neo-colonialism" was untruthful.

"As an important strategic partner, China has made great contributions to the economic development and the betterment of people's livelihood in South Africa," Hong said.

The spokesman said that some Chinese enterprises are carrying out small-scale cooperation through internationally-accepted business models with their partners in Africa, and sell their products to meet local demand.

This year, China donated 443.2 million yuan (about 70 million U.S. dollars) in emergency grain and funds to famine-stricken countries in the Horn of Africa, which Hong said was China's largest donation since 1949.

"Africa is victim to agricultural neo-colonialism," Hong said, adding that it is the common obligation of the international community to promote the sustainable development of Africa's agricultural sector.

During the briefing, Hong also urged "those countries that actually possess vast land" to "listen to the voice of Africa and take concrete measures" to make contributions to long-term food security on the continent.