China has many sorrows of natural disasters. The rise of China reduces many of them and hopefully in the coming decade, they will be memories. According to me, China’s priorities are food, shelter, job, living conditions (air, water, quality of food, health care…), protection from natural disasters, corruption, human rights…
China has ample housing, so it is not a major problem now. China is spending her effort in improving the living conditions. From the last decade, China can take care of herself from natural disasters such earthquakes and flooding disasters.
If it is not used for taking out political enemies, President Xi has accomplished a lot in suppressing corruption. Corruption is so widely spread and could be part of the culture, so it is not a small task. Compared to 30 years ago, human rights have been improved by leaps and bounds.
For the last 250 years, food has always been a problem. Today no Chinese starves to death, but it is a long way to compare to developed countries. The rich is literally eating all the better food produced by the world. I used to have a twin lobsters for $15 in many Chinese restaurants in Boston a couple of years ago and now it costs $35. Literally they fly or swim over to China. The poor countries suffer as more food is distributed to China compared to 25 years ago. About 25 years ago, I ate rice in China that had been in the stockpile for 5 years. It tasted bad.
China has 7% of the world’s arable land but 19% of the world population. That’s why China needed the ‘one-child policy’ while India’s huge population would eat all the limited food resources. The younger population will not help India as expected by many experts.
Coupled with the problem of few arable land per capita, China’s crop yields are poor compared to developed countries. Chinese farmers use too much fertilizers and chemicals that pollute the soil and land. The government banned GMO seeds with political reasons. As a result China is behind in GMO seed development which is important.
The industrial advances lead to migration of farmers to cities leaving the elderly farming the land. Many farm lands are also polluted by industrial wastes. China should encourage and subsidize farming for many reasons.
China today depends too heavily on farm products from S.E. Asia, US and Australia. It leads to the security to protect the import from her neighbors. Carries and a stronger blue water navy have been being developed for this purpose besides invading Taiwan.
A big drought or a big flood could starve her citizens and escalate to riots against the government. Most Chinese villages have electricity and basic machines/tractors. They also have good roads/railroads compared to most developing countries. They have adequate education on farming technology and management.
It is NOT enough! China government bit the bullet by letting ChemChina to acquire Syngenta, a Swiss company and a world leader in insecticides, herbicides and the No. 3 producer of seeds. It costs China $43 billion and far more expensive than her second largest acquisition of Nexen at $15 billion.
It makes a lot of sense in the cost (though huge by any standard) and benefit. China may not be able to buy a US company due to our congress on security reason. Technology transfer is too restricted, too little and too late.
Overnight, China becomes one of the top three companies in this sector. It bought the global market share too beside the benefit for feeding the world population including China. It will provide better food quality required by her wealthier citizens. With the commitment and huge pool of Chinese scientists, China will catch up fast. It looks great for China and the world. Today China does help many poor countries especially in Africa on farming.
The above is from my book "Can China Say No?". Click here for more info in Amazon.com.