This research project investigates the politics and practices of Chinese agribusinesses “scaling up” production domestically and “going out” to make investments globally. What are the key drivers behind the transition from smallholder farming to industrial-scale agriculture? How much does scaling up and going out vary by sector, geography, or local political dynamics? How has Chinese agribusiness development been affected by the country’s uncertain access to global food supplies? This project evaluates and develops two arguments. The first is that agro-industrialization is different from previous patterns of (non-agricultural) industrialization because of the lesser roles afforded to foreign investment and market forces. The second is that Chinese agribusiness development has been framed as a national security issue by both China and the U.S., the effects of which are to broaden the scope of agricultural products controlled by large companies and to accelerate the pace of scaling up and going out.
Kristen Looney is an assistant professor of Asian Studies and Government at Georgetown University, where she teaches courses on Chinese and Comparative Politics. Her research is on East Asian development and governance. She holds a B.A. in Chinese Studies from Wellesley College and a Ph.D. in Government from Harvard University.