Agriculture in China dates back millennia, and the country gave humanity some of its most widely consumed crops. Millet, hemp, Chinese cabbage, water buffalo, swine, and poultry were all domesticated in China, making it a globally important contributor to the food we eat and the ways we farm today.

Throughout the centuries, the ever-growing population of the country made it challenging to feed its people and famines were not uncommon due to bad weather and bad planning. However, by the 2010s, famine became more marginal, and China managed to feed the vast majority of its population. This came at a price though, as the country relies heavily on imports to provide for its 1.4 billion people, making it the most populous country until 2023.

Apart from being an economic challenge, heavy reliance on food import is also a sovereignty issue, especially during times of crisis. The main argument of this paper is that food security and self-sufficiency in food production are becoming less and less economical goals, as the proportion of agriculture in developed countries’ GDP is shrinking, and turning into questions of sovereignty. However, China might not lose much of its sovereignty due to its need to import food, as less than 2% of their imports is rice, their most important staple food. This means that the country can mostly supply itself with the crop that has the highest impact on its food security and therefore sovereignty.

Another important finding is in the remaining part of China’s agricultural imports. These are mostly non-staple foods such meat, fruit, and vegetables, that provide an excellent trade opportunity for European countries, where these products are traditionally produced in high quality and great quantities. The growth of Chinese middle class furthers this potential, as the demand for good quality non-sample food from Europe is projected to grow.

Altogether, China’s self-sufficiency in staple food strengthens the country’s sovereignty, while its growing imports in non-staple foods is an opportunity for potential exporters, such as European countries.

The research is available by clicking here.