Beijing’s New Policy Reveals Poverty, Food Security Are Top Concerns for 2021

February 25, 2021 Updated: February 25, 2021

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on Feb. 21 released its first main policy document of the year, known as “Document No. 1.” Poverty alleviation and food security are the Chinese regime’s top concerns for 2021.

A press conference was held on Feb. 22 about Document No. 1. China’s minister of agriculture, Tang Renjian, said “two things must not go wrong” for China in 2021, according to a report by Radio Free Asia (RFA). He emphasized that poverty and a food shortage crisis must be prevented.

Food Shortage Crisis

Hu Ping, honorary editor-in-chief of Beijing Spring, a popular China-based political magazine, told RFA: “There are two major problems [that China is facing]: one is the tight supply of food which is not ample; the other is the rural revitalization, which shows that there are many fundamental and serious problems in rural areas. In the past, the rural areas were self-contained and self-sustained, now they no longer are, and it was directly related to China’s economic development strategy.”

Under the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, major grain countries have restricted exports. This has alarmed the regime, as China relies heavily on imported grains.

At the Feb. 22 press conference, Tang stressed the importance of increasing the volume of agricultural output by citing a popular Chinese saying: “If you have surplus grain in your hand, you will not panic in your heart.”

He said: “The international situation is increasingly uncertain and unstable. So, on the issue of food security, we cannot take it lightly.”

Last year, The Epoch Times reported that China could face a food shortage crisis due to various natural disasters hitting its main agriculture areas, as well as COVID-19 lockdowns.

China Elderly
Two men listen to a portable radio near a cornfield in Weijian Village, in China’s Henan Province on July 30, 2014. (Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images)

Poverty Alleviation

Document No. 1 states that counties that have been lifted out of poverty will be given a “five-year transition period” from the date that they were officially deemed to be out of poverty. This statement baffled Chinese netizens, according to Chinese media reports. One asked on Chinese social media: “Didn’t [the CCP] announce that [poor counties] are no longer in poverty? What is the ‘transition’ for?”

At the end of 2020, when the Chinese regime announced that its goal of alleviating poverty had been achieved, some netizens expressed their disbelief. Chinese-language radio network Sound of Hope interviewed a Chinese official in July 2020, who said the CCP’s “poverty alleviation” is largely based on its loose definition of “poverty” and manipulating data. The Chinese official wished to remain anonymous due to security concerns.

Most of China’s poverty-stricken areas are rural counties. According to public data, China’s rural population as of 2019 was around 554.7 million. The Chinese regime predicted that by 2025, the proportion of the rural population over the age of 60 will reach 25.3 percent, or about 124 million people.

Many rural residents can’t make a living in their hometowns and have moved to cities as migrant workers. With low wages and a lack of labor protection, most migrant workers struggle to make ends meet.