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Tajikistan signed a landmark leasing deal with the Chinese regime, signing over 2000 hectares of agricultural land. For many local farmers it’s an opportunity to learn new farming skills. But the financial details of the deal haven’t been released to the public and some are fearing the country’s future sovereignty.
For the citizens of Tajikistan, a recent land leasing deal with the Chinese regime brings a mix of hope and fear.
The landlocked Central Asian country leased 2000 hectares of land to the Chinese regime this month. Chinese national Wang Shuai has already built four greenhouses and plans to build 30 more there.
Wang learned Russian and goes by the local name of Misha. He shows two Tajik farmers in the southern village of Bustonkala how to tie up tomato bushes inside one of the greenhouses.
[Wang Shuai, Chinese Farmer]:
“We are going to build another 30 greenhouses in Tajikistan. They won’t even need gas or electric power. We will apply our ‘know-how’ method when aluminum foil on greenhouse walls reflects sunlight on tomato and cucumber bushes and warms up the entire greenhouse.”
This year he will sow the village’s first rice crop. Farmers say Misha will help them set up their own greenhouses in the future and market stall holders are welcoming the local product over imports from nearby countries.
It’s an opportunity for the poorest of five former Soviet states in Central Asia, were the average monthly wage is only . But government officials have not revealed the financial details of the deal and are planning on more agreements.
[Safar Safarov, First Deputy Chairman of Tajikistan]:
“If Chinese, American or other farmers can really work on our land—and if our Tajik people, unfortunately, don’t have the aptitude—then, of course, this is what is going to happen. We need to feed and water our own people and our food program targets must be met, this is the goal of any head of state.”
The Chinese regime says it has no territorial ambitions in Central Asia. Yet China’s sheer size and its relentless hunger for raw materials to feed its fast-growing economy means its influence in the vast mineral-rich region is growing fast. Governments in Central Asia have accepted billions of dollars of Chinese loans in exchange for access to natural resources.
Economic analyst Victor Kim says the country must tread carefully.
[Victor Kim, Economic Analyst]:
“We have to be tough realists, extremely tough realists and we should not be led by the desire for quick profit. I mean, leasing two thousand hectares of land for 10 years doesn’t mean that the Chinese will solve our food problems, they won’t.”
After Russia, China is Tajikistan’s biggest trade partner, with an 18 percent share of the country’s total trade turnover. Tajikistan owes the Chinese regime 0 million, 36 percent of its national debt.