Is China responsible for famine in the Horn of Africa?
Beijing/Washington: A day after the United States held China partly responsible for famine in the Horn of Africa due to its trade restrictions on fertilizer and alleged hoarding of grain, Beijing today retorted by squarely holding Washington responsible for the present global food crisis.
“It is quite clear to the world who exactly is causing the global food crisis. The US side also admitted that the sanctioning of Russia has taken a toll on many countries and made food shortages a reality,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian, told reporters in Beijing today. He added, “The US still has not returned to the Afghan people their life-saving money. Now, how many Afghan lives will face the risk of starvation because of that?”
The Director of the US Agency for International Development Samantha Power claimed yesterday that China was one country which stood out for its absence while more than 100 countries signed a Roadmap for Global Food Security introduced by the US at the United Nations in May 2022.
Beijing today clarified that as a developing country, it has no obligation to provide official development assistance (ODA) which is defined as government aid that promotes and specifically targets the economic development and welfare of developing countries. It also pointed out that food security is included as one of the eight priority areas of cooperation in the Global Development Initiative put forward by China.
The US roadmap called on UN member states to contribute to humanitarian organizations, keep their food and agricultural markets open, avoid export bans on food and fertilizer, increase domestic fertilizer production, share market data, and increase investments in long-term agricultural productivity.
Instead, what China did even before the war in Ukraine began, it imposed trade restrictions on fertilizer, and hoarding of grain inflated prices, Samantha claimed. She accused the Chinese government of doing nothing to offer transparency into its stocks and production “that might have soothed markets”. She pointed out that in 2017, the last time the Horn of Africa faced a severe drought, Beijing donated $34 million to the World Food Programme response. Drawing an analogy between Beijing and Washington, she said thus far in 2022, while China contributed $3 million to WFP for a global response, the US provided $3.9 billion so far this fiscal year.
It may be mentioned though that extreme temperatures and abnormal rainfall patterns have affected the crops of breadbaskets like the United States, France, India, Brazil, and China in profound ways. But nowhere is the pain of drought being felt more acutely than in Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia. Countries that are part of a region known as the Horn of Africa.
Lijian today asked the US to seriously reflect on its disreputable role in the global food crisis and stop smearing and making groundless accusations against China. He reminded the US that Beijing was the second largest contributor to the UN regular budget and a “responsible major country”. He further claimed that China was actively participating in international development cooperation, providing substantial development resources to UN development agencies, including food and agriculture agencies, and making positive contributions to global food security.
“Since COVID-19 began, China has responded actively to the initiatives of the UN and other international organizations to provide emergency food aid to a host of countries. China has provided more funding, sent more experts and undertaken more projects under the framework of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s South-South Cooperation Programme than any other developing country,” he claimed. He also quoted an article on German-foreign-policy.com that the soaring food price may trigger a hunger riot in the Arab world which could lead to political turbulence.
– global bihari bureau