Image by Peter Fitzgerald
Russian Far East regions map
In an effort to thwart American efforts to punish Russia for malign behavior and confront the administration’s efforts to change China’s trade strategy, Russia has offered to lease 2.5M acres of land in the Russian Far East to China for agriculture development.
Russia has made 1 million hectares (2.5 million acres) of arable land available to foreign investors – and while that could be boon for Beijing as it struggles with limited supplies of soybeans in its trade war with the US, analysts are concerned about the quality of the plots available.
Valery Dubrovskiy, director of investment for the Far East Investment and Export Agency, a non-profit organisation, said on Tuesday that several Chinese companies had already expressed an interest in the deal.
Dmitri Rylko, general director of the Russian consultancy Institute for Agricultural Market Studies, said that most of the fertile land in the Far East region had already been taken, though Chinese businesses had increasingly been signing leases and other temporary agreements.
“[The] best lands are occupied and have been heavily exploited by domestic farmers, so if they want more, it will be predominately in remote and low productivity areas,” he said, reported the South China Morning Post.
“In the Far East in particular there has been political resistance, including from residents, to Chinese companies renting land for agricultural production,” Zhang Xin, a Russian studies expert at East China Normal University in Shanghai said.
“[Their] concerns regard the large influx of Chinese workers and a dissatisfaction with Chinese farming methods … like using too many pesticides and fertilisers.”
The development is a possible threat to American soybean farmers, but the real question is, with China’s 100 year marathon to be the world’s dominant power, will Russia ever get the land back?