South Asia and Beyond

‘China Is Not Short Of Food But Floods Have Been Devastating’

NEW DELHI: China’s President Xi Jinping has sounded a warning about food security in the wake of devastating floods along the Yangtze River.  Production of rice and wheat have seen severe disruption forcing China to import more wheat than it ever has in the first six months of this year.  Recent reports say China has bought 1.76 million metric tons of corn from the US, the largest ever, suggesting the impact of natural disasters could be worse than imagined.

Atul Aneja, who was Beijing correspondent of The Hindu for many years, offered his insights to StratNews Global in a skype chat. He said China was nowhere near the kind of famine conditions that prevailed in the 1950s and 1960s due to then Chairman Mao’s disastrous economic policies. “While there may be some rationing system or subsidised food for economically poorer regions, China’s internal market is largely free,” he said, noting that “food is available in plenty. Where a shortage is perceived, the government is quick to import.”

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There could be an issue with pork and its availability but local authorities are usually on their toes when it comes to any issue that could cause public unrest.  Aneja could not recall, during his years there, public demonstrations or anger over food.  He acknowledged that arable land is limited but it is very productive and fairly well irrigated.