Forced role reversal

Published: Saturday 15 January 2005

It is good and bad news for China. Citing the country's economic growth in recent years, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has decided to phase out its food aid to it from 2005. While experts believe this is an indication of China's growing global importance, they also warn the move might spell trouble for the poor Chinese provinces. China has received WFP aid for nearly 25 years.

WFP executive director James Morris, who visited Beijing recently, also requested Chinese prime minister Wen Jiabao to increase China's donation to WFP: "Our job is to feed the hungriest, poorest people. China is no longer one of those countries... China is one of the most important countries in the world, so I will be asking them to help us more," he reportedly said. Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Liu Jianchao later confirmed: "...China will gradually increase its donation to the WFP.

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