China just bought 9% of Ukraine’s arable land, or one-twentieth of the whole country:
The deal comes after Ukraine lifted a law barring foreigners from buying Ukrainian land last year. As part of the deal, China’s Export-Import bank has given Ukraine a $3 billion loan for agricultural development. In exchange for its produce, Ukraine will receive seeds, equipment, a fertilizer plant (Ukraine imports about $1 billion worth of fertilizer every year), and a plant to produce a crop protection agent. XPCC also says it will help build a highway in Ukraine’s Autonomous Republic of Crimea as well as bridge across the Strait of Kerch, a transport and industrial center for the country.
Critics say the move exemplifies a slew of global land deals that smack of colonialism and resource extraction by richer countries in poorer ones.
The farmland is a big deal, but the infrastructure investments are a very big deal.
This story won’t generate many big headlines in the West, but Vlad Putin is feeling gut-punched. He’d worked for years to bring Ukraine back fully into Moscow’s orbit — but China just undid all that with what amounts to pocket change.
UPDATE: China’s Ukrainian partner denies everything.
Ukraine’s KSG Agro released a statement today, Sept. 24, denying reports that it had reached an agreement to sell 3 million hectares to a Chinese firm. Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post had reported a deal between KSG Agro and China’s Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, (XPCC) in which China would be able to farm the area for up to 50 years. The paper cited a statement from XPCC as the source of its report. Quartz and other media also reported on the story.
In its statement, the Warsaw-listed agricultural firm said that it is only working with its Chinese partners on a project to install drip-irrigation systems over an area of 3,000 hectares in Ukraine next year. “KSG Agro does not intend or have any right to sell land to foreigners, including the Chinese,” the statement posted on their website said. China’s XPCC could not be immediately reached for comment.