Potato up­graded as new sta­ple crop

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By XIN­HUA

China is boost­ing potato cul­ti­va­tion to trans­form the crop into the coun­try’s fourth sta­ple food after rice, wheat and corn, Yu Xin­rong, vicem­i­nis­ter of agri­cul­ture, said at a sem­i­nar on Tues­day.

It is time for pota­toes to be­come a sta­ple food, given China’s rapid ur­ban­iza­tion, as they can di­ver­sify the din­ner ta­ble, saidWanBaorui, di­rec­tor ofChina’s StateFoodandNutri­tion Con­sul­tant Com­mit­tee.

Pota­toes have been grown in China for about 400 years and now cover 5 mil­lion hectares, ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture. The area de­voted to pota­toes will ex­pand to 10 mil­lion hectares to bet­ter safe­guard the coun­try’s grain sup­ply, ac­cord­ing to the min­istry.

The coun­try will see 50 bil­lion kilo­grams of new food de­mand by 2020. China has a short­age of farm­land and while it is hard to im­prove the yield of wheat and rice, it is eas­ier to im­prove the yield of pota­toes, ac­cord­ing to the min­istry.

The coun­try has set a “red line” min­i­mum of 120 mil­lion hectares of cul­ti­vated land, but pres­sure on arable land is still great, largely due to rapid ur­ban­iza­tion.

Hong Kong’s chief ex­ec­u­tive and chief sec­re­tary urged op­po­si­tion law­mak­ers not to de­prive the city’s 5 mil­lion el­i­gi­ble vot­ers of the right to univer­sal suf­frage in the 2017 chief ex­ec­u­tive elec­tion, as the Hong Kong Spe­cial Ad­min­is­tra­tive Re­gion gov­ern­ment launched its sec­ond pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion to re­fine elec­tion pro­ce­dures.

Fol­low­ing a blue­print set out by the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress Stand­ing Com­mit­tee in Au­gust, the con­sul­ta­tion pa­per re­leased on Wed­nes­day looks for feed­back on re­main­ing op­tions to re­fine the nom­i­na­tion process and bal­lot count­ing.

Top­ics in­clude fine-tun­ing com­po­si­tion of the nom­i­nat­ing com­mit­tee, re­quire­ments for prospec­tive can­di­dates to be con­sid­ered by the 1,200 nom­i­na­tors, meth­ods of nom­i­na­tion and the thresh­old for vic­tory in the elec­tion.

Op­tions in­clude first-past­the-post and two-round vot­ing if no can­di­date wins more than 50 per­cent of the votes. The pa­per also seeks a so­lu­tion in case only one per­son wins majority support from the nom­i­nat­ing com­mit­tee.

The Hong Kong gov­ern­ment will bring the finalized pro­posal to the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil be­fore the end of June. The pack­age must be en­dorsed by two-thirds of lo­cal law­mak­ers.

But the 5 mil­lion el­i­gi­ble vot­ers in Hong Kong might be de­prived of the right to choose their lead­ers, as the 27 law­mak­ers in the op­po­si­tion camp ap­pear keen to block any­thing that con­forms to the decision of the coun­try’s top leg­is­la­ture.

Chief Sec­re­tary for Ad­min­is­tra­tion Car­rie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor urged the op­po­si­tion law­mak­ers not to dis­ap­point the pub­lic, who still strongly hope to cast bal­lots in 2017.

“I urge all LegCo mem­bers to think twice and not to de­stroy com­pletely the limited ‘po­lit­i­cal space’ re­main­ing be­fore the sec­ond-round pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion has yet to com­mence,” Lam told the leg­is­la­ture on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon.

If the re­form pack­age was ve­toed by the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil, Lam cau­tioned, the next city chief would again be cho­sen by 1,200 elec­tors in 2017. As a re­sult, univer­sal suf­frage of the chief ex­ec­u­tive would not­be­com­e­re­al­ity be­fore 2022.

The con­sul­ta­tion pa­per sug­gests that a per­son only needs to be rec­om­mended by as few as 100 nom­i­nat­ing com­mit­tee mem­bers to get onto the nom­i­na­tors’ bal­lot. Lam as­sured that process would also serve as an open and com­pet­i­tive bat­tle for the top job.

Hong Kong’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, Le­ung Chun-ying, cau­tioned op­po­si­tion law­mak­ers and ap­pealed for ra­tio­nal dis­cus­sions from the pub­lic un­der a spirit of com­pro­mise.

WANG JIANG / FOR CHINA DAILY

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