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Delegates Explore Agricultural Cooperation, Expanded Ties At Two-Day China-Africa Agricultural Forum

Chinese and African officials concluded the China-Africa Agricultural Forum in Beijing on Thursday, which explored possibilities for agricultural cooperation and addressed food security issues, Xinhua reports.

About 400 delegates from China and Africa participated in the forum, which started on Wednesday. At the closing ceremony, Chinese Vice Premier Hui Liangyu “proposed enhanced exchanges among agricultural departments and improving the Sino-African agricultural cooperation mechanism,” the news service writes. Hui called for technological collaboration and trade expansion and said the Chinese government would continue to send Chinese agriculture experts to work on projects in Africa (8/12).

In an article highlighting notable developments, China Daily/People’s Daily Online writes that Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping “said at the forum that agricultural cooperation is an important part of Sino-African cooperation, pledging to enhance the China-Africa new strategic partnership with closer agricultural links.” Organizations, such as the China State Farms Agribusiness Corporation, “were encouraged to expand their businesses to Africa,” the news service reports, noting that the forum was “organized by the International Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the Ministry of Agriculture” (Zhu, 8/12).

The forum also issued the Beijing Declaration, which called for the international community, especially developed countries, to address “food security in Africa and honor their aid and debt-relief commitments,” Xinhua reports. “We call upon developed countries to make more effort to help African countries realize the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations,” said the declaration (8/12).

While reading the declaration, Hui “said global food security should be the number one priority of governments, given that acute food shortages were bound to lead to food crises and hence social and political instability,” Dow Jones Newswires/Automated Trader reports. “China is the largest developing economy able to feed 20% of the world’s population on the proceeds of 9% of the planet’s arable land. If we partner with Africa with a much higher percentage of arable land yet contains most of the developing countries we should be able to guarantee international food security,” Hui said (Mwangi, 8/12).

The Daily Nation reported on Kenyan Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka’s meeting with Vice President Xi ahead of the forum. Musyoka encouraged China to invest in Kenyan agriculture and “called for technology transfer in irrigation farming, seed technology, and mechanization of agricultural production as well as agro-processing for value addition” (Barasa/VPPS, 8/11).

The Times of Zambia also reported on Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Peter Daka’s participation in the forum. “Speaking during the official opening of the China-Africa Agriculture Forum … Daka, who is Zambia’s delegation leader said there was need for the transfer of technologies in some strategic sectors” (8/12).

Another China Daily/People’s Daily Online article outlines comments at the forum opening ceremony by Wang Jiarui, head of the International Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee. “The ruling parties of China and African countries shoulder the responsibilities to push forward China-Africa agricultural cooperation, as the two sides shared the common mission of properly handling food safety issues and realizing sustainable agricultural development, Wang said,” the news service writes (8/12).

In related news, the “Third Global Forum of Leaders for Agricultural Science and Technology (GLAST-2010) kicked off in [the Chinese city of] Harbin on Thursday to address food security concerns amid rising grain prices and fluctuations in the world food market,” Beijing Review reports. “The three-day forum will focus on agricultural policy making and implementation, as well as agricultural science and technology and international cooperation on the sustainable development of agriculture” (8/13).

New York Times Reports On Anger, Discontent With China’s Hospitals

The New York Times reports on a recent spate of violent episodes in Chinese hospitals resulting from patients’ dissatisfaction with care. According to the article, the violence “reflects much wider discontent with China’s public health care system.” The article details the problems caused as the Communist government left hospitals to “fend for themselves” in the 1990s. “By 2000, the World Health Organization ranked China’s health system as one of the world’s most inequitable, 188th among 191 nations.” Government efforts to improve health care over the last few years have produced “notable results,” but in most parts of the country, “the quality of care remains low,” the New York Times writes, noting the low levels of education among doctors, shortages of primary care physicians, inappropriate treatments and the high cost of drugs. The article also mentions how some hospitals are dealing with the anger-related violence (LaFraniere, 8/11).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.