Can $74 Million Worth of Pig Semen Heal the Rift Between Britain and China?

How It Works
Dec. 4 2013 4:18 PM

Can $74 Million Worth of Pig Semen Heal the Rift Between Britain and China?

83949062
Power of the pork.

Photo by Peter Muhly/AFP/Getty Images

One of the main deliverables from British Prime Minister David Cameron’s trip to China seems to be a massive deal involving pig semen, the Financial Times reports:

Joshua Keating Joshua Keating

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

The government believes the deal could be worth up to £45m a year to British companies, in combination with live pig exports, although some industry experts say the figure could be substantially less. British companies are currently prevented from exporting pig semen under Chinese biological safety rules.
Downing Street said: “We’re doing all we can to ensure that businesses up and down the country reap the rewards from our relationship with China. And that includes our pig farmers.
“This new deal to export pig semen will mean Britain’s best pigs will help sustain the largest pig population in the world.”
Advertisement

Pigs are a big deal for the Chinese economy, with almost 446 million of them—one for every three people and more than the next 43 countries' combined. Fluctuations in global pork prices have drive the country’s exchange rate, and analysts have joked that CPI actually stands for "China Pork Index."

According to the FT, British pigs “grow faster, eat less food and, crucially, reproduce much more quickly than their Chinese counterparts,” so the hope is that superior sperm will help Chinese pork manufacturers keep up demand. This is the second major international Chinese pork deal of the year after Shuanghui International Holding's purchase of Smithfield Foods earlier this year, in the biggest Chinese takeover of a U.S. company ever.

This is Cameron’s first visit to China since controversy erupted over a meeting between the prime minister and the Dalai Lama last year. This visit wasn’t entirely without controversy, as Cameron publicly voiced his complaints about a British journalist from Bloomberg being barred from a press conference.

Cameron was also the target of a critical editorial in the Global Times, which urged him to “acknowledge that the UK is not a big power in the eyes of the Chinese. It is just an old European country apt for travel and study.”

Cameron’s been through this sort of thing before, but evidently decided this time not to give China the full Love Actually treatment.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Homeland Is Good Again! For Now.

Politics

Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

The Ludicrous Claims Women Are Pitched at “Egg Freezing Parties”

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

Behold
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 AM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 1 2014 12:20 PM Don’t Expect Hong Kong’s Protests to Spread to the Mainland
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 1 2014 12:21 PM How One Entrepreneur Is Transforming Blood Testing
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 11:59 AM Ask a Homo: A Lesbian PDA FAQ
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 10:54 AM “I Need a Pair of Pants That Won’t Bore Me to Death” Troy Patterson talks about looking sharp, flat-top fades, and being Slate’s Gentleman Scholar.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 12:26 PM Where Do I Start With Leonard Cohen?
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 AM Watch a Crowd Go Wild When Steve Jobs Moves a Laptop in This 1999 Demonstration of WiFi
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 1 2014 12:01 PM Rocky Snow
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.