Billionaire Xingfa Ma has just purchased two large cattle stations in Australia, part of China’s growing appetite for beef, and the latest in a string of deals between Chinese investors and Australian farmers this year. China has 20% of the global population, including many newly affluent meat-eaters, but only 9% of the world’s arable land.
Ma owns ball bearing giant Tianma and is one of the 400 wealthiest people in China, according to Forbes. He has already invested a significant amount in real estate holdings in Australia, including another cattle station and a wine group, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
As part of the deal, Ma spent $47 million to acquire 40,000 head of cattle on 705,700 hectares (1.7 million acres) of the Wollogorang and Wentworth cattle stations—located in the Northern Territory and Queensland border regions.
Just days ago, Australia’s agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce publicly announced that the country was looking to strike a new live cattle exports deal with a unnamed country. Many think this country will be China, and according to the Herald, the two countries have already begun negotiating a deal. Any agreement may face obstacles, including concerns that live exports would bring insects carrying Bluetongue disease—which is not harmful to humans, but potentially fatal for animals—to China.