Faced with the threat of an unprecedented food crisis in China, the agricultural authorities of the communist regime announced a list of 276 firms that would receive extra benefits from the regime. These firms are all involved in the production process of raw food materials. It appears to be a desperate attempt to reduce the potentially catastrophic risks of the situation.
China is a massive country with vast natural diversity, huge freshwater reserves, and fertile land for various crops and animal production. But it also has more than 1.4 billion people who must be fed daily. Unfortunately, the policies implemented by the regime over the last few years mean it cannot guarantee food security for its population today.
Currently, the CCP is unable to meet the demand for food products. To solve this problem and temporarily avoid a crisis, China has no choice but to import large volumes of food commodities such as grains and pulses.
Mainly, since 2015 various reasons have led China to drastically reduce its agricultural production, which has generated internal disputes over its inability to guarantee the food sovereignty proclaimed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The measures the regime is trying to implement today come after the pandemic highlighted foreign dependence. Another factor is increased trade disputes with other countries, mainly the United States and its allies, from 2020 onwards.
Concerns about a global food crisis have also raised alarm bells after war broke out between Russia and Ukraine, and the global supply chain was profoundly affected.
These factors are compounded by the extreme weather that has hit China in recent years and the regime’s abysmal environmental care policies that have led to the devastation of crops and productive land.
What does the new plan consist of?
According to the CCP’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, the newly released list comprises 69 enterprises and breeding institutions in the crop sector; 86 enterprises in the livestock and poultry sector; and 121 in aquaculture.
The declared objective is to develop a sustained production of grains and not to depend, as is the case today, on the massive amount of imports that prevent the regime from ensuring food sovereignty for its citizens.
The Chinese regime announced its intention to modernize the agricultural sector, which means that the selected firms will receive sufficient resources, technologies, talent, and capital from the regime to boost their innovation capacity and make them internationally competitive.
Food security is a sensitive topic in communist China. Many Chinese have sad memories of the Great Famine that hit the country between 1958 and 1962 under the failed Great Leap Forward program. That program was promoted by communist dictator Mao Zedong and caused the avoidable death of tens of millions of people.
The issue of food security is so sensitive in China that it has become directly linked to the regime’s political stability.
The Chinese regime cannot produce enough food to supply its population
China has experienced exponential economic growth over the past two decades, becoming, according to its figures, the world’s second-largest economy. However, uneven development brought a considerable increase in demand for foodstuffs. Demand that the Chinese regime would not be able to supply if it were not for the multimillion dollars of imports that enter the country’s ports daily.
According to a report in Nature magazine, the value of agricultural imports has increased by 78% in dollar terms over the last 20 years, and imports of beef and pork have also increased considerably, demonstrating the Chinese regime’s heavy dependence on the international market to feed its citizens.
War conflicts and growing tensions between various powers threaten world peace in a turbulent world, adding to an unprecedented pandemic that paralyzed the world economy. As a result, ensuring food security has become a crucial policy pillar for Beijing’s new development strategy.
But why is China failing to achieve food autonomy despite possessing 10% of the world’s arable land, one of the world’s largest freshwater reserves, a vast labor force, and significant technological development?
Some drawbacks can be identified at the outset, primarily due to corruption, ambition, and bungling CCP policies that have exacerbated the problem.
Arable land is being essentially ruined, partly due to industrial development that has generated serious irreversible pollution of rivers, lakes, and historically fertile land, following uncontrolled and corruption-laden growth.
On the other hand, controversial real estate developments, many fraudulent and unnecessary, have advanced without planning on super-productive lands, rendering them useless because huge cities have been built on them, which in many cases are practically uninhabited.
At the same time, floods and droughts have completely ruined thousands of hectares of fertile land, primarily due to China’s misuse or overuse of more than 20,000 dams.
Toxic food in China and its relation to the food crisis
Reports indicating serious toxicity cases in China’s food industry are becoming more and more abundant, perverse and harmful to health. The issue of toxic food came to light more than a decade ago and is becoming increasingly prevalent in communist China.
The origin of these cases has several causes. Still, in part, it is directly linked to the issue of food sovereignty, the need to reduce costs, the lack of raw materials, and the consequent need to replace natural products with chemical inputs.
So alarming is the situation with toxic food that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) warned athletes participating in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing to “exercise extreme caution” when eating meat in China, as it is likely to be contaminated.
In 2013, a Radio Free Asia video went viral showing in stomach-churning detail how cooking oil is made from sewage waste and leftover animal fat and meat. As the Washington Post described:
“Enterprising men and women scour dumpsters, gutters and sewers, scooping out liquid or solid garbage containing used oil or animal parts. They then process it into cooking oil, which they sell at below-market prices to food vendors who use it to cook food that can make you seriously ill.”
The communist regime’s ruling class lives in a different reality. To such an extent that the Los Angeles Times published a report entitled “In China, What You Eat Says Who You Are.” It describes the organic farms and exclusive factories that form part of the parallel food system charged with producing top-quality food for the CCP elite.
The food issue is a very sensitive topic in China and a fundamental pillar for the regime’s stability. Therefore, any faction that intends to lead it will have to address this issue urgently.