Leave our cows alone was the message sent to China from New Zealand this week. Thanks to a growing taste for milk (and scandals miring local dairy producers), the Chinese are interested in buying dairy farms abroad. Wealthy property developer Jiang Zhaobai accordingly made a $164 million bid for 16 dairy farms in New Zealand, via his firm Shanghai Pengxin. It got government approval but divided opinion among Kiwis. A consortium of local businessmen made a counter-offer and filed a court action to block the sale.
The judge ruled in their favour, on the basis that there was greater benefit if a domestic consortium bought the bankrupt properties than a Chinese one. A spokesperson for Pengxin told the Associated Press the ruling was “a big surprise, I hadn’t read the Overseas Investment Act in that way”. Those who supported the sale say it would have promoted wider Chinese investment. Those who oppose it, wrote AP, believe farmland “needs to stay in the hands of New Zealanders if the country is to remain prosperous”.
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