CHINA THREAT – A report recently published by the Center for American Defense Studies (CADs) in Washington, DC, which I lead, has focused on China’s food production and ‘food security’ as a critical vulnerability for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime. The report, written by food security and Asia expert, Geoffrey Quartermaine Bastin, is subtitled: “Agriculture and Food Supply in China.”
It describes in detail how food security could be one of the most important factors driving Chinese policies, domestically and externally.
As Bastin notes:
China produces the largest single volume of food on Earth. However, Beijing’s aggressive drive for expansion overseas, its trade with neighboring countries, and activities within internal regions such as Xinjiang, is driven by concerns about a vulnerable food supply that are deeply ingrained in the history and political memory.
“The people are the foundation of a country; food is the primary need of the people. As food decides national prosperity and the people’s wellbeing, food security is a major prerequisite for national security.”
China’s food security issue is therefore a paramount concern to the CCP and its ambition to become the global superpower by the 100th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 2049.
Despite its immense size and growing economic and military clout, China is surprisingly vulnerable in many ways that Western defense experts often ignore, and domestic food supply and agriculture to sustain its massive population is one of the most serious.
According to the CADS report:
China is not self-sufficient in food. It produces only about 60% of its total food requirement. The 2018 Food Sustainability Index (FSI) was prepared by the Italian NGO Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition Foundation ranked China 23rd out of 67 countries in overall food sustainability. However, China was close to the bottom of the index at 57th for agricultural sustainability (i.e., domestic supply), shockingly just above Sudan (58th).
In the report’s conclusion, I note that:
Given China’s dependency on food imports to make up for its deficits, this is an area to which pressure can be applied. At its simplest, China could be embargoed with competitor countries restricting food exports.
And I add that: “China may be vulnerable in its overall trade routes, although once again, direct action would reflect a serious escalation of the current low-level ‘Gray Zone Conflict’ between the US and China.”
Finally, and most dangerously, I also noted that:
The most damaging option, which would only be considered in the context of a full-scale kinetic conflict, would be to disrupt the main irrigation systems between the Yellow and the Yangtze rivers. A concentrated conventional attack on the Three Gorges Dam, for example, would bring the Chinese regime to its knees.
However, I add that this type of attack “would also make the Allied bombing of the Möhne, Edersee, and Sorpe dams in the Ruhr Valley during the Second World War pale by comparison.” It would obviously be far up on the escalation ladder, but the CCP must be aware that, nevertheless, it is an option.