What Sri Lanka (about hunger) teaches the rest of the world about China and “bio” – Corriere.it

It is not often that the radical chic environmentalists of Western countries and the Chinese regime are associated in a common responsibility.

success in Sri Lankawhich pays serious consequences for that objective collusion.

The country in the throes of a dramatic crisis whose last chapter marked by violent street protests who forced the Rajapaksa brothers, respectively president and prime minister until a few days ago, to resign and flee. Sri Lanka is a very small country compared to the giants of that area: the island has only 22 million inhabitants, a trifle compared to the 1.4 billion of its northern neighbor India. But it occupies a strategic position along the naval routes of the Silk Roads, already crossed three thousand years ago by merchants who transported fabrics, spices, precious stones from China to South Asia, the Horn of Africa and the Mediterranean. Therefore Sri Lanka (ex-Ceylon) bears the traces of an ancient history, from the equally remote origins of Indian civilization.

Still, due to its position, this island coveted by the Chinese as part of their Belt and Road Initiative expansion planthat construction of infrastructures that we also call the New Silk Roads.

Sri Lanka in 2022 in a situation of sovereign bankruptcy, which is not just a financial disaster marked by the inability to repay debts or to be granted new loans: immediately the country does not have the means to pay for imports of food, medicines, fuel. exhausted.

The lines at the petrol stations are kilometers long. Schools, companies, offices are almost all closed.

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a disaster anticipating what could happen in many other poor countries hit by the food crisis.

But the Sri Lankan one has some very specific causes, bewildering or instructive depending on your point of view. And the war in Ukraine, with the hyperinflation of grain prices, was only a final contributing cause, aggravating problems that preceded it for years.

A small, dirty secret, almost invisible in international reports, at the origin of the agri-food crisis that starves the population. The Rajapaksa brothers, listening to Western advisors with ultra-environmental credentials, they tried to convert the entire agriculture of the island to agro-biological methods. In the impetus of reform, yearning for the purity of the environmentalists of the rich countries, they banned the import of chemical fertilizers on the island. The result was an agricultural catastrophe of unprecedented proportions, the collapse of crops, shortages.

Organic farming, at the current state of the art, provides less contaminated products but has much lower productivity to the traditional one. Put very explicitly, a luxury for the rich, unsustainable when applied on a large scale. While modern agriculture that uses industrial methods and chemical fertilizers perfectly capable of feeding the eight billion inhabitants of the planet (as demonstrated by the green revolution that transformed India from a starving country into a superpower exporting agricultural commodities), an application generalized bio would condemn the majority of humanity to starvation.

Seeing is believing: the citizens of Sri Lanka were the unwitting guinea pigs of this unfortunate experiment. And now they have nothing to eat.

Between the prospect of dying of hunger, and the possible damage to health from the consumption of foods produced by modern agriculture, they would not have hesitated to choose the lesser evil, that is, the second. But Sri Lankans had no choicethe strategic decision on bio was taken by experts who set themselves the mission of saving the planet (sacrificing, if necessary, the humanity that inhabits it).

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The other peculiarity of Sri Lanka is this: the island falls within the case of the Countries that have slipped from the financial orbit of the West to that of China.

Those used to denounce the misdeeds of the International Monetary Fund (which in the Old-Marxist vulgate of the sixties and seventies was equated with a financial arm of American imperialism) must now realize that the alternative is not exciting. China became Sri Lanka’s largest lender, with $ 12 billion in loans, mostly engulfed in ruinous infrastructure projectscathedrals in the desert, perhaps with some advantages for the Rajapaksa brothers, certainly not for the population of the island.

At dinner not a malleable or lenient creditor. Five years ago, Beijing seized a port built with its loans in Sri Lanka, which is now Chinese-owned.

Xi Jinping is negotiating Sri Lanka’s debt restructuring with a far tougher stance than the IMF would.

The story is instructive and is being watched carefully in other parts of the world. The list of China’s debtor countries that are already bankrupt or at risk of insolvency is growing: Pakistan, Laos and Zambia are among the most dangerous.

The Philippines of the new president Marcos has just canceled some requests for loans to China for major works in the railway sector. The New Silk Roads are not all sprinkled with roses and flowers.

July 20, 2022, 13:05 – change July 20, 2022 | 14:59

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