With over 20 percent of the world's population but only 9 percent of its arable land, China's food security strategy is a matter of global concern. For decades, influenced by its painful history of periodic famines and distrust towards the international market, China has embarked on a policy of achieving self-sufficiency in grain.1 In 1995, Dr Lester Brown published his well-known book, Who Will Feed China? A Wake-up Call for a Small Planet. He claimed that an increasingly affluent China would starve the world.2 In response, China issued its first White Paper on its grain issues, which stated that the country aims to increase grain production so that its grain self-sufficiency rate under normal conditions will exceed 95 percent while its net import rate is aimed to fall to 5 percent (or lower) of the total consumption quantity.3
To achieve self-sufficiency in grain supply, China introduced the Rice Bag Governor Responsibility System to make local government officials responsible for grain production in their districts. In 2004, China started to abolish its agricultural taxes and began to provide subsidies for grain production. In 2006, China announced the 120 million hectare red-line for the country’s arable land to prevent the conversion of arable land to other uses. Amid the 2007/2008 global food crisis, China announced its first ever Mid to Long Term Grain Security Plan (2008-2020). The plan reiterated the goal of raising the country's grain self-sufficiency rate to above 95 percent.4
While China’s grain production has increased over 44 percent between 2003 and 2015, its grain imports (including soybeans) during the same period skyrocketed by nearly 400 percent. Although the price gap between the domestic and international markets has been one of the main reasons behind the surge in China’s grains imports over the last few years, it is quite clear that domestic production is falling short of the rapidly rising demand. As a result, at the Rural Work Conference convened in December 2013, the Central Government introduced a new food security strategy. According to this new strategy, food security in China will be ensured by domestic supply with “moderate imports.”
In late January 2014, China issued its 2014 Number One Central Document.5 This Document placed the improvement of the national food security system at the top of the reform list for 2014 and the next few years. It highlighted that “China must not neglect domestic grain production at any time, and must stick to the arable land protection redline, designate permanent arable land for grain production, and consistently enhance the country’s overall agricultural production capability so as to ensure basic self-sufficiency in grain supply and absolute security in staples (rice and wheat) supply.” It also stressed that “China must be more active in utilizing international food market and agricultural resources in order to effectively coordinate and supplement domestic supply.”
Although self-sufficiency is still at the center of China’s food security strategy, some major changes have taken place. On one hand, the definition and boundary of grain has been redefined. The central focus of the food security strategy has been shifted from ensuring grain self-sufficiency, which covers not only rice, wheat, and corn, but also soybean, root tubers (such as potatoes), and coarse grains, to ensure basic self-sufficiency in cereals (wheat, rice and corn) and absolute security of the staples (rice and wheat). In other words, the new food security strategy demands optimal allocation of resources to safeguard supplies of the country’s staples — rice and wheat. On the other, “moderate imports” officially forms part of the national food security strategy. It is the first time in history that “moderate imports” as a policy option has been explicitly accepted. It calls for “more active utilization of the international food market and agricultural resources to effectively coordinate and supplement the domestic grain supply.”
By stressing the aim to take good control of its own bowl, as has been reiterated by Chinese President Xi Jinping on multiple occasions over the past few years,6 China’s new food security strategy resembles to a large extent the Japanese approach during the post-WW2 period, which can be summarized as achieving absolute self-sufficiency in staples while relying on the international market for non-staples. Considering the remarkable similarity between China and Japan in terms of their food security dynamics — painful histories of periodic famines, food cultures, and agricultural production factors endowments, it is understandable that China is adopting a parallel food security strategy as that of Japan during the same difficult period. The effectiveness of China’s new food security strategy, however, remains doubtful, as it might turn out to be extremely difficult, if not entirely impossible, for it to achieve absolute security or self-sufficiency in staples. China’s attempts to boost staple production could bring huge economic, social and environmental costs to the country.
Absolute Security of Staples: Possibility Revisited?
Notwithstanding the remarkable similarities between China and Japan in terms of their food security dynamics, there are two key differences: China’s agricultural sector is much bigger than that of Japan and China is bound by heavy WTO commitments.
To begin with, China’s agricultural sector is much larger in size. China’s agricultural areas amounted to 515 million hectares with over 240 million agricultural workers. While there has been a significant outflow of the rural labor force to the industrial and service sectors over the past decades with rapid urbanization, agriculture still accounts for nearly 30 percent of the total employment in China. Also, there are still over 600 million rural residents who are directly and indirectly dependent on the agricultural sector, in grain production in particular. In contrast, Japan only has 5 million hectares of agricultural land and the country’s agricultural sector only employs less than 2.4 million people, which is about 3.8 percent of the country’s total workforce.7 Moreover, nearly two-thirds of its agricultural workers are over 65 years old. This drastic difference in the scale of their agricultural workforces has profound impacts on both countries’ efforts to boost the domestic production of their respective staple grains.
Given both countries’ agricultural factor endowments, neither country has comparative advantages in producing land intensive staple crops such as rice or wheat. What this means is that to boost domestic production of staple crops, enormous financial support has to be provided to farmers. With far fewer farmers — rice farmers in particular, Japan managed to raise the income of rice farming to a level that is not only comparable to that of other crops but also to the level of the urban residents via a range of financial instruments. Heavy financial support for rice farming has contributed to the remarkable growth in Japan’s rice production. In fact, due to concerns over the oversupply of rice, the Japanese government has introduced since the 1970s the Gentan to pay farmers to reduce their rice production.
In China’s case, efforts to boost its staple crops (rice and wheat) production through subsidies apparently failed to raise the net returns of rice and wheat farming. Despite the massive amount of agricultural subsidies provided to wheat and rice farmers in recent years, the financial support received on a per-hectare basis or by individual household is still too small to make a big difference. For instance, as shown in Figure 1, in 2013, even with government subsidies, the net profit for wheat farming remains negative, while that of rice farming is lagging far behind that of fruits and vegetables. Rapidly rising production costs further erode the thin profit margin of rice and wheat farming in China. Due to low returns from rice and wheat farming, a growing number of Chinese farmers are switching to cash crops or are even leaving their land idle.
In view of the economic hardship experienced by rice and wheat farmers in China, some experts have advocated greater financial and policy support from the government to spur domestic production of staples. Certainly, Japan has been quite successful in maintaining self-sufficiency in rice via providing direct financial subsidies, price support, and tight rice import restrictions. While China wishes to follow Japan’s and other industrial countries’ footsteps to provide more financial support to promote its agricultural sector, the country’s hands are tied by its WTO commitments. Under the WTO accession agreement, China agreed to limit Amber Box subsidies to 8.5 percent of the value of farm output, eliminate export subsidies on agricultural exports, and notify the WTO of all government subsidies on a regular basis. Already, China has become the biggest spender on agricultural subsidies. According to a report by the OECD, China paid out $165 billion in direct and indirect agricultural subsidies in 2012 and nearly 70 percent of Chinese subsidies are of the most distorting sort, such as the minimum grain purchase prices to grain producers.8 By 2014, China’s Producer Support Estimate (% PSE) as a share of farm income reached about 20 percent.9
China’s WTO commitments not only restrains the amount of agricultural subsidies it can provide to its farmers but also limits its options in controlling agricultural trade. As China does not have comparative advantages in producing land and water intensive crops such as cereals, subsidizing rice and wheat production particularly through domestic price support will not work unless it can shut off the inflow of cheap imports. In the case of Japan, the Japanese government imposed a 778 percent tariff on rice imports to protect domestic rice production.10 For China, while it is keen to protect its farmers and levies high import duties on agricultural products, there is very little it can do. To gain admission to the WTO, China made huge compromises, particularly with regard to reductions in its agricultural trade tariff. Currently, China’s average tariff on agricultural products is only 16 percent, far lower than the global average of 60 percent. Furthermore, under the country’s WTO commitments, China is obliged to allow for a certain amount of grain imports with lower duties. Currently, the wheat import quotas are capped at 9.6 million tonnes, corn at 7.2 million tonnes and rice at 5.3 million tonnes. The low-tariff rate is 1 percent while grains imported without the quota allocation would be charged a 65 percent import duty. With over 23 million tonnes of low tariff cereal imports quota, China’s efforts to boost domestic grain production via price support will inevitably attract more imports when domestic grain prices are higher than international prices.
In recent years, as domestic grain prices became higher than international prices, China’s domestic grain processors, millers, and food manufacturers turned to cheap imports, smuggled grains, and grain substitutes, which then constrained the further rise of domestic grain prices, undermining the government’s efforts to raise domestic grain production. Apart from a rapid surge in grain imports, grain smuggling has become a serious problem in recent years. Taking rice for example, the widening domestic and international rice price gap has led to huge amounts of rice being smuggled from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Myanmar into China via land borders. As the country’s most influential grain newspaper — Grain News estimated, in 2015 there could be two million tonnes or an even larger amount of rice smuggled into China via the land borders.11 Furthermore, to get around the Chinese Government’s tight control over the grain trade, some agribusiness companies have been importing a large amount of cheap grain-substitute products. For example, in 2015 China imported over 40 million tonnes of DDSG, barley, sorghum, cassava, which are not restricted by quota, as substitutes for corn. The massive influx of cheap imports, smuggled grains, and grain substitutes have exerted huge downward pressures on domestic grain markets, hurting farmers’ incentives for expanding grain production. Over the past few months, China’s domestic grain prices have plummeted. At the national level, it is estimated that corn prices have dropped by more than 20 percent and prices of rice and wheat by 10-15 percent; at the regional level, some provinces saw a nearly 50 percent drop in grain purchase prices.
China’s agricultural sector is dominated by hundreds of millions of small household farms, low and inefficient management at the rural level, and severe corruption of local government officials, it will be very difficult to effectively implemented the target price policy.
Furthermore, the 65 percent off-quota grain tariff is too low to effectively prevent grain imports. In 2004, China introduced the Minimum Grain Purchase Price Policy to boost domestic grain production. Since then, the state’s grain purchase price has been on the rise. Pushed by fixed government minimum purchase prices, soaring labor and fertilizer costs, prices of Chinese grain have become higher than international prices since 2010. By 2015, some data shows that domestic grain prices were 40-50 percent higher than international prices.12 While the current price gap is still lower than the 65 percent tariff rate set by China, if the minimum grain price continues to rise, the 65 percent watershed could be broken very soon. Therefore, realizing the inefficiency and distorting effects of the Minimum Grain Purchase Price Policy, China plans to reform the country’s grain pricing mechanism. The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said it would “explore and try to push forward” reforms that would “decouple” the pricing regime of agricultural products from government subsidies. China will set up a target price system for agricultural products in which low-income consumers will be subsidized when prices are too high, and producers will receive subsidies when prices are too low.13
Certainly, a target price system will facilitate the marketization process of the grain sector and bring more benefits to the grain producers. However, there are two major problems. First, given the high production costs of China’s grain sector, to retain farmers’ interest in grain production, the target price has to be set high enough. The price gap subsidy is clearly classified as trade distorting agricultural support, and the total amount has to be capped at 8.5 percent of the country’s agricultural GDP. Second, to effectively implement the target price system, it requires the acquisition of correct data on producers, production, and sales information, in addition to competent local government officials and a well-functioning grain market monitoring system. However, given that China’s agricultural sector is dominated by hundreds of millions of small household farms, low and inefficient management at the rural level, and severe corruption of local government officials, it will be very difficult to effectively implemented the target price policy.14
Absolute Security of Staples: At What Cost?
China’s attempts to achieve absolute self-sufficiency in staples will not only fail to safeguard the country’s food security strategy but will also bring enormous economic, social, and environmental costs. Again, Japan’s experience can serve as a valuable lesson. On the surface, Japan’s rice self-sufficiency policy appears to be working quite well for the country. The self-sufficiency rate of Japan’s staple — rice — is over 95 percent. And according to the Global Food Security Index 2015 published by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Japan scored 77.4 points, ranked 21st in the country and the second highest in Asia. However, beneath the high degree of Japan’s rice self-sufficiency, there are several major problems. First, while the rice self-sufficiency rate is very high, Japan’s overall food self-sufficiency rate stands around 39 percent, the lowest among the advanced nations, making Japan vulnerable to shocks in the international food markets. Second, Japan’s high degree of self-sufficiency in rice has been achieved at huge costs, most notably the dramatic decline of the agricultural sector. The total value of Japan’s agricultural output, after peaking at JPY 11.7 trillion (USD 120 billion) in 1984, had declined by one-third to JPY 8.2 trillion (USD 85 billion) in 2011. Income from farming that had reached JPY 6.1 trillion (USD 63 billion) in 1990, by 2007 had declined by almost half, to JPY 3.3 trillion (USD 34 billion).15 Irrigated paddy acreage of 2.5 million hectares has been abandoned or converted to other uses. In 2010 arable land abandoned or taken out of production totaled 400,000 hectares. The dramatic decline of the agricultural sector has led to continuous drops in the country’s overall food self-sufficiency rate. Third, as the high degree of self-sufficiency in rice is achieved through heavy subsidies on domestic rice production and tight control over the rice trade, Japan’s agricultural sector has become a major obstacle for Japan in participating in regional and international trade negotiations, undermining the overall economic development of Japan. Also, as the Japanese government’s policy has focused on keeping prices high and keeping out imports, Japanese rice prices are among the highest in the world,16 resulting in significant burdens on consumers.
Similarly, China’s efforts to boost grain self-sufficiency over the past decades have brought considerable costs to the sustainability of its agricultural sector. Almost half of the remarkable increase in China’s grain productivity since 1980 has been attributed to chemical inputs. To increase productivity, nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers, which are supplied at low cost and with subsidies in China, have been widely applied to soil. With only 9 percent of the world’s arable land, China has one of the world’s highest application rates of chemical fertilizers and pesticides per hectare, representing 35 percent of world’s total use of fertilizers and pesticides. In 2010, China’s application intensity of nitrogen and phosphorus were 278.4 kg and 134.5 kg per hectare respectively, as compared to only 70.7 kg and 23.9 kg per hectare in the United States.17 Meanwhile, China is also the largest user of pesticides in the world, and this is an upward trend. Between 1991 and 2011, the total amount of pesticide application in China increased with an average annual growth rate of 11.7 percent. In contrast, pesticide use in many countries, such as France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and India, declined during the same period.18
Overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides coupled with intensive farming practices have contributed to severe degradation of land quality, and an even larger scale of land pollution. On March 17, 2015, the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Ministry of Land and Resources released the first-ever results of a nationwide soil pollution survey that took place between 2005 and 2013. The survey results indicate that 16.1 percent of China's soil and 19.4 percent of its arable land showed contamination with inorganic chemicals like cadmium, nickel, and arsenic.19 A report in 2011 suggested that in Guangdong, only 11 percent of its arable land is not affected by heavy metal pollution.20 Another study from the China National Environmental Monitoring Center which examined the results of nearly 5,000 soil samples from vegetable plots across China showed that roughly a quarter of the sampled areas were polluted. The most common problem found was a high concentration of heavy metals (such as cadmium, lead and zinc) in soil.
While it is certainly an essential step for the Chinese government to start withdrawing arable land contaminated by heavy metals from agricultural production, these policies might fail to revert the current trend of land degradation.21 To ensure the long-term sustainability of the agricultural sector, serious effort will be needed to reduce the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and systematic land fallowing should be introduced in areas where soil quality is poor. However, the goal to achieve absolute self-sufficiency in staples relies on an increase in yield, which will need even more chemical fertilizers and pesticides as well as continuous intensive farming practices as there is no room for China to expand grain production via expanding arable land.
Expansion of irrigated land has been one of the key contributors to China’s remarkable increase in grain production over the past decades. Currently, irrigated land, which comprises of over 50 percent of the country’s arable land, produces 75 percent of its total grain, and 90 percent of cotton, fruits, vegetables, and other cash crops.22 Home to 20 percent of the world’s population, China has only 7 percent of its fresh water, and its agricultural sector is responsible for over two-thirds of its fresh water usage.23 Due to over-exploration and inefficient irrigation methods, China’s water shortage is worsening as more rivers are disappearing and aquifers are dropping. In the 1950s, the country had 50,000 rivers with catchment areas of 100 square kilometers or more. Now the number is down to 23,000. China has lost 27,000 rivers, mostly as a result of over-exploitation by farms or factories. Also, China’s agricultural production is shifting from southern regions to the central, western, and northern regions where fresh water resources are even scarcer.
Irrigation has to rely more on underground waters. Unsustainable extraction of underground water has led to a dramatic fall of aquifers in these regions, in particular, the North China Plain. The North China Plain aquifer system is one of the most over-exploited ground water resources. Due to the expansion of the irrigation systems and intensive farming practices, a significant proportion of the shallow aquifer has dropped by more than 20 meters in the past decades, with some areas experiencing declines of over 40 meters.24 China’s mounting water shortage is compounded by high levels of water pollution. In 2010, an official report indicated that agriculture is the biggest contributor to water pollution in China. Agriculture is responsible for 43.7 percent of the nation's chemical oxygen demand (the main measure of organic compounds in water), 67 percent of phosphorus and 57 percent of nitrogen discharges.25 According to official statistics, in 2012 up to 40 percent of China’s rivers were seriously polluted after 75 billion tons of sewage and wastewater were discharged into them. Moreover, it is estimated that 4.05 million hectares of land are irrigated with polluted water, which hurts crop yields and food safety.
To confront China’s water crisis, China’s agriculture, which uses two-thirds of the country’s water resources, has a crucial role to play. Facing water shortages and pollution, China has introduced policies to ensure sustainable use of water resources as critical for China's food, economic, ecological, and even national security. The Number One Central Document for 2011, which focused on water conservancy, proposed control of total water consumption, improvements in irrigation efficiency, restrictions on groundwater pumping, reductions in water pollution, and guaranteed funds for water-conservancy projects.26 While these measures might be able to postpone the outbreak of large scale water crises in China, the real solution lies in regional and structural adjustments of China’s agricultural sector, such as the withdrawal of agricultural production in areas where water shortages are acute, and reductions in agricultural water usage via promoting virtual water trade and the import of water intensive crops such as cereals.27 However, to boost domestic grain production, China has planned to further expand the areas of irrigated land.28 This means that the current trend of overexploitation could continue, and the growing reliance on chemical fertilizers and pesticides for yield increases will lead to even more widespread water pollution. The experience of Saudi Arabia should serve as a warning to China that the unsustainable use of water resources to achieve grain self-sufficiency could eventually destroy the country’s agricultural sector.
In addition to undermining the sustainability of the country’s agricultural sector, the self-sufficiency policy has indirectly contributed to other economic and social problems such as regional income inequality, the rural-urban divide, China’s housing price bubble, and food safety problems.
Conclusion and Policy Recommendations
Clearly, given the country’s resource constraints and its WTO commitments, it will be very difficult, if not impossible, for China to achieve absolute security of staples or self-sufficiency in rice and wheat. As evidenced by both Japan and China’s experiences, the efforts to boost self-sufficiency in staples will not only fail to safeguard national food security but will also undermine the long-term sustainability and competitiveness of the agricultural sector. Therefore, there is a need to reconsider the feasibility of the self-sufficiency concept.
In recent years, not only liberal economists but also some senior government officials and chiefs of state-owned agribusinesses have been pressuring the Chinese government to abandon the concept of self-sufficiency altogether and embrace a market-oriented food security strategy. For instance, in April 2015, Minister of Finance Lou Jiwei openly questioned the logic of the self-sufficiency policy. He said the government should reduce the highly distorted grain subsidy and boost agricultural imports instead. He added that China can rely on the international market to ensure national food security. Also, Ning Gaoning, chairman of China’s largest state-owned grain company, China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Corporation (COFCO), who believes free trade is the only solution to food security, has urged the Chinese government to welcome more imports.29
From an economic perspective, a market-oriented approach to achieve food security is, undoubtedly, the best option. However, considering the fact that there are serious flaws with the current global food regime, relying on the international markets entirely to feed the nearly 1.4 billion population is too big a risk for the Chinese government to take. Furthermore, given the close links between regime legitimacy and self-reliance on food, ditching the concept of self-sufficiency altogether is not a politically feasible option for the Chinese Communist party. In view of the above, to better safeguard China’s food security, a comprehensive food security strategy is needed. This new food security strategy should start with mapping the key threats to China’s food security under three different periods namely, a) normal or peacetime, b) food crisis, c) full-scale war.
Considering the fact that there are serious flaws with the current global food regime, relying on the international markets entirely to feed the nearly 1.4 billion population is too big a risk for the Chinese government to take.
First, during normal conditions or peacetime, China’s food demand will be met via domestic production and imports. Moreover, international food prices will remain relatively low and stable. Food security at the national level will not be a big issue and the food self-sufficiency rate during peacetime will have nothing to do with food security. Therefore, the policy focus should be on how to deal with food security challenges at the regional, local, and particularly the individual consumer level, as well as ensuring the quantity, quality, and safety of food. The overriding food security objective should be on reducing poverty in both rural and urban areas. In rural areas, the best approach to alleviating poverty is via revitalizing the agricultural sector. And this can be done via allocating key agricultural resources as according to the region’s comparative advantages and supporting farmers to grow crops which generate the highest returns. In urban areas, the government should build an appropriate social protection network to guarantee the urban poor’s access to affordable, safe, and nutritious food.
Second, given the inherent weakness of the global food system, including the thinness of the grain trade, over-concentration of grain exporters, and proneness to external shocks (such as extreme weather, regional conflicts, financial speculation, and export bans), major fluctuations in the global food supply or food crises cannot be ruled out. During this period, the key risk to China’s food security will be soaring food import costs and even temporary difficulties to acquiring food from the international market. To mitigate these risks, a global agricultural policy should be adopted, and this global agricultural policy should include the following five major components: agricultural import diversification, overseas agricultural investment, global agricultural cooperation, strategic trading partners and global agricultural commodity exchange centers.30
Third, in times of war (a full-scale war with the United States or other big countries) which leads to the total collapse of the global food markets, China will not be able to import food from abroad and thus, it will have to produce food to feed its nearly 1.4 billion population. The key task for the Chinese government during this period is how to achieve food self-sufficiency. However, the question remains as how to calculate the food self-sufficiency rate during this period. As pointed out by Kazuhito Yamashita, in times of war, the general public will not be able to maintain normal consumption patterns of pork, beef, mutton, seafood, wine, cheese, and other products, and most of the population will have to live at the subsistence level with basic foods like rice, wheat, corn, and potatoes.31 Hence, the subsistence level of human consumption, instead of current domestic consumption, should be taken as a target amount to achieve food self-sufficiency. To prepare for the worst case scenario, the Chinese government needs: 1) to maintain sufficient strategic food reserves which can meet the country’s food needs based on subsistence consumption levels during the period that new food products are produced; 2) protect key agricultural resources, particularly arable land and fresh water so as to develop agricultural potential which can be quickly utilized to produce enough food for the country in times of war.
1. Zha, D.J. and Zhang, H.Z. (2013). Food in China's international relations. The Pacific Review, 26(5), 455-479.
2. Brown, L. R. (1995). Who Will Feed China. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
3. China State Council. (1996). Grain issue white paper. Beijing.
4. China State Council. (2008). China’s mid to long term grain security plan, 2008-2020. Beijing.
5. No. 1 central document targets rural reform. (2014, January 20). Retrieved from http://english.agri.gov.cn/hottopics/cpc/201401/t20140120_21067.htm
6. See, for instance, Zhongguoren de fanwan yao duan zai ziji shoushang [Chinese should hold its own rice bowl]. People.cn. Retrieved from
7. See, Monthly statistics of agriculture, forestry and fishery of Japan, January 2016. Retrieved from http://www.maff.go.jp/e/tokei/kikaku/monthly_e/pdf/gall_201601.pdf
8. OECD. (2014). Agricultural policy monitoring and evaluation 2014.
9. OECD. (2016). OECD online database. Retrieved from http://stats.oecd.org/viewhtml.aspx?QueryId=66824&vh=0000&vf=0&l&il=&lang=en
10. Takada, A. and Mogi, C. (2013, Novermber 26). Japan dismantles rice output policyas Abe targets farming. Bloomberg. Retrieved from http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-26/japan-to-dismantle-rice-output-policy-as-abe-targets-farm-reform.html
11. See, for instance, Zheng, H. (20116, March 17). Dami zousi changjue, daogu qu kuncun nanshangjianan [Rampant rice smuggling makes destocking difficult]. Grainnews. Retrieved from http://www.grainnews.com.cn/a/observe/2016/03/17-39933.html
12. Ning, G. (2015, August 31). Liangjia bi guowai gao 50%, ying liyong guoji channeng [As grain prices are 50% higher than abroad, China should utilize global production capacity]. CN Grain. Retrieved from http://www.cngrain.com/Publish/news/201508/592951.shtml
13. Market to play bigger role in agri-product pricing: NDRC. (2014, February 6). Xinhuanet. Retrieved from http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2014-02/06/c_133095462.htm
14. Li, G. (2014, January 21). Jianli mubiao jiage zhi, baozhang liangshi anquan [Etablish a target price system to ensure food security]. HWW. Retrieved from
15. Harner, S. (2013, August 19). TPP or no TPP Japanese agriculture must be reformed. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/stephenharner/2013/08/19/tpp-or-no-tpp-japanese-agriculture-must-be-reformed/#355e520b5724
16. See more at: Yoshikawa, Y. (2010, June 28). Can Japanese agriculture overcome dependence and decline? Japan Focus. Retrieved from http://www.japanfocus.org/-Yukie-YOSHIKAWA/3379#sthash.JYvCjoTL.dpuf
17. FAO Database (2014).
18. Zhang, X., Guo, Q., Shen, X., Yu, S., and Qiu, G. (2015). Water quality, agriculture and food safety in China: Current situation, trends, interdependencies, and management. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 14(11), 2365-2379.
19. Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection. (2015). 2014 China’ environmental status report; Report: One fifth of China's soil contaminated. (2014, April 18). BBC. Retrieved from
20. Jiang, J., Shan, F., Peng, Z., and Xu, H. (2011, November 18). Heavy metal pollution: A scary hidden killer. Ecological Security Study.
21. Polluted farmland restored for food safety. (2013, January 23). People.cn. Retrieved from http://en.people.cn/90882/8519890.html
22. In 2012, China’s effective irrigation area is over 925 million acres, constituted about 50% of the country's arable land, produced 75 percent of the country's total output of grain and 90% of cotton, vegetables and other cash crops. See, Wan, B. (2013, October 1). Baituo kaotian zhongdi, liangshi keyi zai zengchan [Stop depending on the weather for farming, China can further increase food production]. QS Theory. Retrieved from
23. Desperate measures. (2013, October 12). The Economist. Retrieved from
24. A glass half empty: Regions at risk due to groundwater depletion. Retrieved from http://www.unep.org/pdf/UNEP-GEAS_JAN_2012.pdf
26. Number 1 central document for 2011. Retrieved from http://english.agri.gov.cn/hottopics/cpc/201301/t20130115_9544.htm
27. Huajie shuiziyuan jinque zhuangkuang, woguo ying dali fazhan xunishui jiaoyi [China should resolve the water shortage situation by developing virtual water trading]. Xinhuanet. Retrieved from http://news.xinhuanet.com/newscenter/2004-09/10/content_1967074.htm
28. Guowuyuan bangongting guanyu yinfa guojia nongye jieshui (2012-2020) de tongzhi [State Council notice on issuing the national agricultural water conservation outline (2012-2020)]. Retrieved from http://www.gov.cn/zwgk/2012-12/15/content_2291002.htm
29. COFCO. (2015). Ning Gaoning dongshizhang chuxi Zhongguo fazhan gaoceng luntan 20115 [Ning Gaoning attends the China Development Forum 2015]. Retrieved from http://www.cofco.com/cn/about/news/24056.html
30. See more from Cheng, G. and Zhang, H. (2014). China’s global agricultural strategy: An open system to safeguard the country’s food security. RSIS Working Paper. No. 282
31. Yamashita, K. (2015). Japanese agricultural trade policy and sustainable development. ICTSD Issue Paper No. 56.