Chinese candidate wins FAO director-general post
A Chinese official has been elected director-general of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization today in Rome.
The Chinese candidate, Qu Dongyu, a vice minister of agriculture and rural affairs in China, prevailed over Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle, a French official, and Darvit Kirvalidze, from the Eurasian nation of Georgia, on the first ballot.
In an election in which each member country has one vote, Qu, 55, a biologist by training, won 108 votes, followed by Geslain-Laneelle of France with 71 votes and Kirvalidze with 12, according to official results. A majority was 96 votes.
Qu will become the first Chinese and the first Communist to be FAO director-general.
He has said publicly he is counseled by Jeffrey Sachs, the well-known professor of economics at the Columbia University.
Agriculture Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney told The Hagstrom Report before the election that the U.S. priority was to keep a deputy director-general position in U.S. hands, and that he believed an American would be appointed to that position no matter who won.
There were rumors that the United States was supporting the Georgian candidate, but U.S. influence in the race was limited, since each country has one vote.
In a candidate forum, a U.S. official had a contentious exchange with Qu over whether he would follow his government’s guidance at the FAO.
Qu will succeed Brazil’s Jose Graziano da Silva for the period August 1, 2019, to July 31, 2023. The director-general will be eligible for only one additional term of four years.