China’s aquaculture sector faces reckoning with Xi’s renewed food security push

A man rows out to inspect the nets of a large crab farm in Xiapu, China.

A renewed emphasis on domestic food security introduced recently by China’s government could result in a shift in how the country’s aquaculture sector operates.

At the Central Rural Work Conference in Beijing, China, in mid-December, China President Xi Jinping reissued a call for the country to become more self-reliant through increased grain production and improving farming practices through the adoption of agricultural best practices and cutting-edge technologies. He directly linked food security to China’s national security.

“We should rely on ourselves to hold the rice bowl steady,” state media quoted Xi as saying at the conference.

China produces enough rice and wheat to cover its domestic demand, but remains heavily dependent on imported soybeans, which is used for livestock and aquaculture feed, according to the South China Morning Post. In recent years, China has become a major importer of a number of other grains and oilseeds, the price of which soared after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

China’s government led an effort in 2022 to expand domestic soybean production, and a series of Chinese government documents issued in 2022 emphasized the importance of food security and increasing local supply of key grains and oilseeds over the growth of cash crops targeted at the export market.

Wang Yamin, a professor at Shandong University’s Marine College, told the South China Morning Post in May 2022 that aquaculture products should be explicitly included in China’s food security strategy ... 

Photo courtesy of CHEN WS/Shutterstock

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