Xi Jinping Raises Food Security to ‘National Security’ Concern

By Winnie Han
Winnie Han
Winnie Han
Winnie Han is currently engaged in reporting Chinese news for The Epoch Times.
July 15, 2021 Updated: July 15, 2021

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Xi Jinping recently emphasized the problem of food security, saying that ensuring grain security should be a “national security” concern. 

On July 9, Xi presided over The 20th Meeting of the Central Comprehensively Deepening Reforms Commission, admitting that it is “more urgent than ever to ensure the independence and control of seeds,” “the string of food security should be tightened more than ever before,” and even elevating the grain security to “a strategic level of national security.”

Li Yanming, China issues expert and commentator in America, told The Epoch Times Chinese-language edition that the issue of food security being raised by Xi personally to a strategic level of national security is a testament to the existence of a food problem in China.

A few days before Xi’s speech, Xinhua, the official media of the CCP, published a high-profile article entitled “Xi Jinping’s Story of Good-living standard: The Rice Bowl of the Chinese People Must Be in Our Own Hands at All Times,” which was also spread by other mouthpiece media in China.

Serious Potential Problems on Food Supply

“China relies on imports for food and seed sources,” said Li Yanming. Last year, in addition to the CCP virus epidemic, many areas in China suffered floods, including the main food-producing areas in the middle and lower parts of the Yangtze River. “Food imports increased drastically last year,” even much more than in previous years he said.

“It’s estimated that China had a shortage of food last year,” said Li Yanming. “But the CCP obviously will not admit that it does not tell the truth, nor will it allow the Chinese media to tell the truth.” 

According to data from the General Administration of Customs, last year, China’s food imports exceeded 140 million tons for the first time. Among them, corn and wheat imports reached a record high of 11.3 million tons and 8.38 million tons respectively, double in comparison to the last two years.

In May, China imported 6.07 million tons of grain and grain flour, a 143.9 percent increase. From January to May, the accumulated imports of grain and grain flour total 27.11 million tons, an increases of 190.5 percent, among which:

corn was 11.73 million tons, an increase of 322.8 percent; 

wheat 4.61 million tons, an 88.9 percent increase; 

barley 4.65 million tons, increase of 139.1 percent; 

sorghum 3.69 million tons, a 237 percent increase.

China’s continuously growing import of food is pushing up global food prices. Britain’s Financial Times reported on June 3 and citing several expert opinions, said that “China’s soaring appetite for grain and soybeans is adding to upward pressure on prices, along with a severe drought in Brazil and growing demand for vegetable oil for biodiesel.”

According to a report released by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations on June 3, The FAO Food Price Index averaged 127.1 points in May 2021, 4.8 percent higher than in April and 39.7 percent higher than in May 2020.

Grain Security is a Long-Term Problem for CCP

Mike Sun, China investment strategist and China foreign trade expert, told The Epoch Times Chinese-language edition that when it comes to the food crisis, in the short term, China’s food rations may not be a major problem when viewed by international standards that consider a “food security crisis” as families being severely malnourished or spending all of their income on meeting their most basic food needs.

However, China’s food imports have skyrocketed since last year, including feed grains and rations such as wheat, which does indicate “a massive shortage of food in China,” said Mike Sun. 

“Viewed from the tone of Xi Jinping’s speech, grain security is the biggest concern because China relies heavily on imported seeds for much of its agriculture, and without imported seeds, some agricultural products are almost paralyzed,” said Sun.

On March 8, Fortnightly Chat Magazine, by the Xinhua News Agency, published an article saying that China’s seed industry is weak in innovation and overly reliant on foreign seeds. Foreign seeds account for more than 80 percent of the total and pose the risk of  receiving “discontinued seeds.”

China’s peppers, onions, carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, and many other vegetables rely on foreign seeds for propagation. The article cited data from the China Seed Trade Association, that said in 2019, China imported $224 million in vegetable seeds, accounting for more than half of its seed imports. The dependence on imported broccoli seeds is more than 80 percent, and the dependence on beet and ryegrass seeds is over 95 percent.

Winnie Han
Winnie Han
Winnie Han is currently engaged in reporting Chinese news for The Epoch Times.