Chinese food and water security: the effects of air, water and soil pollution

Food security Water conservation Pollution China

With China continuing its ambition to become the leading economic powerhouse, the international community continues its push to ensure that China addresses its environmental concerns. China’s pollution levels are staggering, despite the Ministry of Environment Protection’s (MEP) most recent annual pollution report. This report was covered in a recent Future Directions International Strategic Weekly Analysis paper, which made the point that multiple areas of environmental concern remained despite some improvement to the national level of air pollution. As the MEP indicates, there are key regions that cannot be ignored. The discovery of toxic ponds of industrial waste in rural China this year is among several key issues that threaten to show the reality of a dire situation. Such issues highlight the enormity of the challenge that China faces. Air, water and soil pollution must improve as these have a direct impact on food and water security. Addressing pollution levels will not be easy and will be costly for China. Australia can provide assistance to enable China to carry out improvements quickly, especially considering the magnitude of the risks that Australia may be exposed to in the future. Australia could choose to provide this assistance, or find alternative food suppliers; although Australia is likely to be motivated by the desirability of maintaining a cheap source of food imports.

Key points

  • China faces a multitude of issues related to air, water and soil pollution. These issues will impinge on its ability to continue to expand its agricultural sector.
  • China’s ability to address these issues will be difficult due to the increase to global population that will strain the global demand for food in the future.
  • Australia has remained interested in playing a role in mitigating the risks to food and water security in China, as there is potential to improve bilateral relations while also benefiting Australia’s desires for continued access to a cheap and reliable food source.
Publication Details