China is now the world’s largest food importer and imports will continue to increase as China’s food self-sufficiency will drop to around 91 percent by 2025, down from 94.5 percent in 2015.
Writing in Newsweek, Gordon G. Chang, the author of The Coming Collapse of China, said that this was inevitable because of floods in the country’s south, drought in the north, typhoons in the northeast and pest infestations in the southwest took their tolls. African swine fever also ripped through pork-eating China.
Water use is lowering the mighty Yangtze River, 80 percent of China’s water is polluted, industrialisation is taking over farm lands and affluent Chinese want more beef, pork, poultry and lamb. These require more water and far more agricultural land.
“The essential strategic basic characteristic of every enduring great power is its ability to feed itself, to be a net exporter of food,” said Copley, also the editor-in-chief of Defense & Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy. “It is difficult to see how China can remediate its soils and its food production—or deliver enough potable water—to meet demands any time in the coming decade, even with a declining population.”
Paskal thinks China, to solve its food problem, will continue to buy farmland in Africa, Canada and around the world, but it is also possible that Xi will try more aggressive measures to ensure food self-sufficiency.
Henry Kissinger often—and correctly—reminds us how Chinese leaders are devoted students of history and devise current strategies from successful ones in the past. Xi Jinping, therefore, may believe he will need to annex land to give the Chinese state a more secure hold on agricultural areas before going on to achieve his grand territorial ambitions. Annexation, after all, is how the Qin, during the Warring States period of the fifth to third century B.C., succeeded in conquering others. It first grabbed land from small neighbors to assure food supply in order to sustain its successful campaigns against the larger kingdoms to “unite China.”
Xi cannot be happy that China is increasingly dependent on a nation he has identified as his enemy, the United States, to feed its 1.4 billion people. There are, consequently, bound to be geopolitical tremors when a China led by an insecure and militant regime decides it needs to obtain self-sufficiency in food.