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China denies hoarding overseas farmland
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A senior Ministry of Agriculture official yesterday dismissed foreign media reports about China hoarding overseas farmland, saying the country is fully capable of ensuring its own food security.

"Such reports are groundless and not factual we have not hoarded any farmland overseas and have taken no steps to introduce any such policy," Li Zhengdong, director of the ministry's international cooperation department, told a press conference held by the Foreign Ministry on the agenda of President Hu Jintao's visit to the outreach session of the G8 summit in Japan next week.

Li was responding to a report in the Financial Times on May 13 that China has been encouraging its firms to purchase overseas farmland, and that the Ministry of Agriculture is in talks with Brazil about acquiring land for soy production.

China has been 95 percent self-sufficient in regard to food supply in recent years, Li said.

"We are fully capable and confident of ensuring food security mainly through domestic supplies," he said.

In the meantime, China has been helping developing countries in the areas of materials, funds, technology training and aid in an effort to solve food-related issues, he said.

"Food trade between China and other countries has been continuing. China was a net exporter during the first four months of this year; China is a net exporter most of the time," Li said.

He also denied suggestions that the government plans to hike grain prices owing to the price gap between the domestic and international food markets.

Food security will be a hot topic of the forthcoming outreach session of the G8 meeting, which will also discuss issues of common concern such as global economic problems, climate change and implementation of the millennium goals, Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Jieyi said.

President Hu will arrive in Japan on Monday, Liu said.

The president is scheduled to attend a series of meetings with leaders of the G8 and seven other countries on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The gathering of world economic powers will deliver a joint announcement on climate change, Liu said.

China has "a very open attitude toward discussing any issues about response to climate change" under the principle of "common but differentiated responsibility", Su Wei, director of the Office of National Leading Group on Climate Change told reporters.

In a recent collective study by the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China focusing on climate change, President Hu stressed the importance of improvements to related laws and regulations, and of pushing forward energy management and price reforms in order to combat the problem, he said.

"This reflects the Chinese leadership's deep cognizance of the issue," Su said.

"We should focus on real, practical short- and medium-term actions.

"Empty talk of long-term goals does not produce any specific basis on which to address climate change," he said.

(China Daily July 4, 2008)

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