Asian Survey | VOL. 23

Food Policy in China: Recent Efforts to Balance Supplies and Consumption Requirements

Publication Date Apr 1, 1983


China's present population is reported to be more than one billion-nearly double the 582 million reported after its 1953 population census. The annual population growth rate, which has been slowly decreasing, is estimated variously to be 1.2%1, 1.9%2, and, most pessimistic, 2.2%.3 Each 1% increase produces a population gain of more than 10 million per year and a static demand for an additional 3.5 million metric tons of food in terms of grain equivalents. "For people [Chinese]," writes a Hong Kong analyst, "the supreme thing is food, food comes first, [and] should never be forgotten."4 In this article China refers to the People's Republic of China (PRC), and the period covered is mainly the 30 years from 1949 through 1979 with emphasis on the relevant events of the late 1970s. Since the most pressing Chinese problem is to provide enough food for its ever-expanding population, either through increased domestic production and/or imports, the government has resorted to a complicated system for regulating and allocating available food supplies among its people, controlling food production and mix, and using food as a weapon of foreign policy and domestic social change. The purpose of this essay is (1) to assess the government's food balancing efforts in terms of nutritional adequacy, and (2) to describe and evaluate certain procedures the government is using to effect a more desirable balance between available food supplies and individual consumption requirements.


Annual Population Growth Rate Tons Of Food Food Supplies Policy In China Government's Food Consumption Requirements Food Policy People's Republic Foreign Policy Change Republic Of China

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