China has already gone abroad to secure supplies of energy and minerals by investing in mines and oil fields, so why not do the same for food? The Beijing Morning Post quotes Xie Guoli, a senior trade promotion official with the agriculture ministry, as saying that China is looking at leasing farmland in Russia, South America and Australia.
China already has rice farm joint ventures in Cuba and Mexico. High international grain prices could be pushing Beijing to consider doing the same on a larger scale and for more foods. How seriously it is pursuing the idea remains to be seen, but there is one reason for doing so beyond high import prices.
Very big, China, as Noel Coward famously said, but it is also running out of farm land. Arable land was reduced by 40,700 hectares to 121.7 million hectares last year, mainly because of urbanization. That is close to the minimum of 120 million hectares Beijing has said it regards as needed.