China's money changes the landscape in Australia
GUNNEDAH, Australia (AP) - Mr Tony Clift's family has plowed the rich black soil of Australia's Liverpool Plains for six generations. The thought of selling never crossed his mind - until a Chinese company came to town.
Shenhua Watermark Coal offered to buy farms at unheard-of prices. The decision wasn't easy, Mr Clift says. His pioneer ancestors settled the land in 1832. But farming is a business nowadays, and selling his 2,600ha made business sense.
"If someone offers you a whole heap of money, you've got to take it," says the 50-year-old father of two, sitting at the kitchen table of the palatial hilltop home he built with the windfall. A sea of yellow stretches out below, canola fields planted on less fertile land he bought 40km to the north.
Soaring coal prices fueled by China's economic growth have made mining parts of the Australian landscape far more lucrative than farming it. It's one example of how China's emergence as a global trading power may transform countries in ways never contemplated and not yet fully understood.