Tuesday, May 6, 2014

China's need for food. A dilemma.

As China becomes increasingly affluent, there seems to be a change in what this huge nation ‘eats.’ Whilst the ‘traditional’ and extensive cuisine still retains a massive following, there is also an emergence of a wish to ‘eat from other cultures,’ along with the accompanying ‘beverages.’ New Zealand is well placed to take advantage of this movement as the rich and middle classes seek out new culinary experiences. This is good for New Zealand and draws us together as nations. New Zealand continues to import large amounts of Chinese manufactured goods and in return exports to China. Overall, most seeing this two way trade as a ‘win win’ situation.
I have read reports that as more and more Chinese move to the cities the rural population is becoming smaller, often leaving behind the elderly and the very young. This imbalance will have huge implications for China in the future. The agricultural base is now very different from that of just a few decades ago and for China to be able to feed itself, there is going to be a need to import more food or for China to become heavily involved in ‘joint-ventures,’ with other countries. Some would see this as a negative. For me, it depends on the relationship. I am not in favour of ‘any’ nation buying up huge amounts of land in developing countries and then imposing a ‘monoculture’ on that country. Unless the local farmers are part of the deal, I see more negatives.
China must feed its people, and the way forward is going to be fraught with difficulty; ones I hope that New Zealand plays a part, re a solution rather than creating other unforeseen problems around pollutions and unequal economic sharing.  China has ‘arrived’ as one of the most significant economies in the world, and NZ must take advantage of this, but on ‘equal terms.’

Boko Haram strikes again, in the 'name of God.'

At various times in history, many people have suffered at the hands of ‘extremist groups or megalomaniac despots; just take Hitler, Khmer Rouge, the Taliban and Boko Haram. There have also been times in history whereby the actions of profit seeking movements have caused havoc to societies or even huge regions of the world. Take the terrible translocation of millions of Africans from the various parts of Africa; a movement that was fed by greed on the part of the ‘suppliers and the buyers and middlemen who made vast profits.
Most people think that slavery no longer exists but they would be wrong in that assumption. Modern day slavery is alive and well and the actions of Governments around the world have not stopped the illegal traffic and the human suffering it continues to cause.
When Boko Haram kidnapped hundreds of young women from a school in Nigeria it took a while for the ‘Western’ world to react. Yes, there was the original reporting of the actions of that extreme group that labels all ‘Western education as a sin,’ hence the name of the group, but it was only when prominent British politician entered the fray that the world sat up and noticed. That this group uses religion to ferment and justify its actions is repugnant, to Islam and to all other religions, except for the most extreme of adherents. Unfortunately the minority groups that promulgate such belief hold a power that far exceeds their numbers. Moderates may speak out but not with the ‘conviction’ that Boko Haram and the Talban do. Of course history is littered with examples of minority groups who have gained and held power, simply because they go to extremes that more moderate groups fear to tread.
The Nigerian Government is in disarray re the kidnapping of the young women, only recently even acknowledging that it even took place, making claims that they will find the victims of this heinous act. They have even accepted the help of the British and USA to help find and return the young women to their families. I fear that it may well be too late as the girls have already been transported across the border to face sad and terrible futures.
The issue is not one that the Islamic world can resolve on its own. This is a ‘world’ issue, an extension of what can happen when extremist groups are able to flourish. Yes, we have heard that such groups only operate because conditions exists which they can fed into discontent, but in this example and that of the Taliban, there needs to be a united approach, backed by all nations as it cannot be contained within a small geographic area—it affect all nations, one way or another. The place of the UN has never been more urgent in finding a solution to both finding the young women and also to curb the excesses of extremists throughout the world. When one major player tries to play various segments of their populations against another or ignores what is happening even within its own borders, or helps a group in a ‘competitors’ area, then we are all the losers as further atrocities are committed against the citizens of the ‘world.’
Nigeria is an example of what can happen if we do not face this threat together, all religions, and all nations.