China fears about food security
By Baiye 03-12-2019
Last month the country’s leadership produced its first report on the issue in 23 years as the trade war with the US and other issues prompted a fresh look at how it can continue to feed its population.
While the situation is “very sound” at present, policymakers are looking for ways to counter a series of environmental and political risks
Global trade conflicts and the increasing trend towards unilateral trade agreements have raised alarm bells in Beijing about how China can continue to feed its 1.4 billion people.
Last month the State Council, the country’s cabinet, published a policy paper on food security – the first in 23 years. It said that while the current food supply situation was “very sound” it also flagged concerns about potential disruptions due to trade friction with the US. Climate change is another worry for future food production.
China’s devastating experiences with hunger and famine mean that the prospect of food shortages touches a raw nerve.
“In the medium to long term, China’s grain production and demand will remain closely aligned, which means China must not slacken its efforts to ensure food security,” the paper said, adding that the “international food trade is being disrupted by protectionism and unilateralism and showing increasing instability.”
Analysts say the “instability” word is the one that causes consternation in Beijing, but it is not just a concern in China.
The worst outcome is that trade wars will raise uncertainty and delay investment, including in new farming technologies, said David Laborde, a senior research fellow with the International Food Policy Research Institute.
国际粮食政策研究所（International Food Policy research Institute）高级研究员拉博德（David Laborde）表示，最糟糕的结果是，贸易战将增加不确定性，并推迟投资，包括新农业技术的投资。
He said the economic and demographic pressures that would result from climate change meant the world needed more technological innovation, but if trade conflicts undermined research and investment, then the world could face food shortages and higher prices in 10 or 20 years’ time
A recent report from the United Nations said that climate change was causing loss of arable land and poses a threat to global crops. It added that the stability of food supply is also threatened by the expected increase in extreme weather.
The topic is part of the discussions at the COP25 climate summit in Madrid starting on December 2, which brings together governments from around the world, including China, to come up with means to tackle what is increasingly being termed a climate emergency.
这个话题是12月2日在马德里召开的第25届气候峰会（COP25 climate summit）讨论的一部分，这次峰会汇集了包括中国在内的世界各国政府，提出了解决日益被称为气候紧急状况的方法。
“High food prices are not a problem for the rich, but it is a big problem for the poor, and this could trigger political instability,” Laborde said.
Beijing’s paper on food security comes as agricultural products are at the forefront of trade disputes with Washington, which has thrown a spotlight on China’s heavy reliance on imports of animal-feed grains, especially soybeans.
“Food security will be a paramount priority for China,” said Cheng Guoqiang, food security adviser to the Ministry of Commerce and a professor at Tongji University in Shanghai.
“It doesn’t mean China will pursue self-reliance in every aspect. While strictly sticking to the principle of being self-sufficient in rice and wheat, China will try hard to ensure overseas supplies of feed grains.”
The white paper was followed by a directive from the State Council to ensure supply of “high-standard farmland” to improve food security.