China's Qu picked to lead UN food agency

Qu Dongyu is the new UN Food and Agriculture Organisation director general.
Qu Dongyu is the new UN Food and Agriculture Organisation director general.

Qu Dongyu, China's deputy agricultural minister, has been elected the new director general of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, the first person from a Communist country to hold the influential post.

The agency's 194 member countries convened at FAO headquarters in Rome on Sunday to choose a successor to Brazilian Jose Graziano da Silva.

Qu, 55, a biologist by training, won 108 votes, followed by France's Catherine Geslain-Laneelle with 71 votes and Georgia's Davit Kirvalidze with 12, according to official results. The US had backed Kirvalidze.

The FAO, which has over 11,500 employees, works closely with other UN agencies to achieve the goal of a hunger-free world by 2030. More than 800 million people are currently facing hunger.

Prior to the vote, Qu said he'd focus on hunger and poverty eradication, tropical agriculture, drought land farming, digital rural development and better land design through transformation of agriculture.

Qu said he was "grateful to his motherland" but added he would be faithful to the FAO's mission during his four-year term.

Ahead of his election, he rejected claims he would be beholden to instructions from Beijing, pledging China would follow "FAO regulations and rules."

Australian Associated Press