Or: Forty Centuries of Sustainable Farming
“We are to consider some of the practices of a virile race of some five hundred millions of people who have an unimpaired inheritance moving with the momentum acquired through four thousand years; a people morally and intellectually strong, mechanically capable, who are awakening to a utilization of all the possibilities which science and invention during recent years have brought to western nations; and a people who have long dearly loved peace but who can and will fight in self defense if compelled to do so.
We had long desired to stand face to face with Chinese and Japanese farmers; to walk through their fields and to learn by seeing some of their methods, appliances and practices which centuries of stress and experience have led these oldest farmers in the world to adopt. We desired to learn how it is possible, after twenty and perhaps thirty or even forty centuries, for their soils to be made to produce sufficiently for the maintenance of such dense populations as are living now in these three countries … “ (Farmers of Forty Centuries, F.H.King, 1911).
This is not a panegyric for China … after all, I am a nobody as far as any social influence goes and for a person such as myself to wax flattery about a nation of around 1.5 billion people, would be presumption of the most crass and vulgar kind, they certainly can and do speak for themselves.
No … I come not to praise China, but rather to perhaps persuade others here to “listen up” to what ought to be obvious regarding the reality of this mega-populated nation to the north of us … and if we read the above portion of the preface to a book by an American, published in 1911 of the skills and traditions of agriculture of those peoples from forty centuries ago until that said date of publishing, you will appreciate a civilisation well versed in knowledge, frugality and perseverance … and other characteristics mentioned above … truly a nation of people to be, if not possibly emulated, then at the very least respected as capable and culturally cohesive.
The incessant anti-China propaganda dribbling out from all our media that seeks and finds every and any means to vilify and demean China via direct accusation or implied innuendo reeks of the old days of anti-Soviet “Red Menace” publications … Of course, these days the “Bolshevism schlock” is a damn sight more sophisticated, but none the less crude in its enactment by certain authorities and media outlets.
But what is the real feeling of what and where China is going with its social and economic expansion?
One Belt – One Road … Surely a bold and courageous initiative that ought to hold the attention of the world and inspire it to examine it as more than just a “communist plot” by China to grab power …
The stated objectives are:
“… to construct a unified large market and make full use of both international and domestic markets, through cultural exchange and integration, to enhance mutual understanding and trust of member nations, ending up in an innovative pattern with capital inflows, talent pool, and technology database.”
The Belt and Road Initiative addresses an:
“ ‘infrastructure gap’ and thus has potential to accelerate economic growth across the Asia Pacific area, Africa and Central and Eastern Europe. A report from the World Pensions Council (WPC) estimates that Asia, excluding China, requires up to US$900 billion of infrastructure investments per year over the next decade, mostly in debt instruments, 50% above current infrastructure spending rates. The gaping need for long-term capital explains why many Asian and Eastern European heads of state “gladly expressed their interest to join this new international financial institution focusing solely on ‘real assets’ and infrastructure-driven economic growth.”
Surely this would benefit Australia and open up entirely new markets for agricultural produce and manufacturing? … What could possibly be the downside to wholeheartedly joining in such an enterprise, except that certain “players” who like to control and corner geographical areas of the world trade map may find their “private back yard” of controlled and policed countries shrinking and abandoning their “protection racket” methodologies.
We have seen just recently, many Pacific Nations being approached with investment opportunities by China that would be of more benefit to those nations than the patronising pseudo-colonising by “certain western nations” that have kept them under obligation to a cold-as-charity system of “foreign aid” and exploitation … Having their revered cultures displayed as tourist entertainment for a few shekels tossed at their feet … or worse, being used as a penal colony for payment for their debts. Who can blame them for considering a changing of the guard?
And what about us? … What have we as a nation gained from this brave new world of neo-liberal, free-market philosophy? … A gig economy of casualised, part-time work, flat-lined shit wages and conditions … shit healthcare, inequality in education and a racist attitude toward multi-culturalism … retirement to a world of poverty and lack of decent care … a coterie of gangster LNP politicians who if they cannot steal the nations treasures to add to their already bulging property portfolios, they then flog it off at fire-sale prices to their mates and have sent everything of quality off-shore including our good name and honour … and there’s no point asking that old chestnut; “what have we got to lose,” because we have already lost it!
What would be lost for Australians to hitch their wagon to the One Belt – One Road Initiative? We see and hear the agricultural sector bitterly complaining of a lack of workers, surely if there was a wider market ready to pick up our produce, good wages and conditions could be paid to lure workers to their farms … if there was a greater population calling out for quality produce, then all the better for pricing and maintaining healthy agriculture practices? … If there was a wider market for the shipping of goods, then there would surely be space for quality manufacturing and value-adding to the products we make?
Someone tell me the downside? … and if we continue to clamour that Australia is a “market driven” economy that runs on the entrepreneurial inventiveness of its best and brightest, then surely the chance to join in one of the most imaginative enterprises of this twenty first century has to be a once in a lifetime opportunity!
I’m in! … Are you?
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