As a college student, I’m required to attend a lot of random events for classes. For a writing class that I’m currently taking, I had to attend a speech given by Mr. Huang Ping, the Consul General stationed in Chicago for the People’s Republic of China. I initially thought that it’d be a bore, I’ll be totally honest. I went in with my Flip camera and audio recorder, figuring I’d be struggling to pay attention. However, a few off-hand statements that the Consul General made along the way caught my attention.
In the middle of a answering a question about China-U.S. trading, the Consul General mentioned that China relies heavily on American agriculture products. He specifically listed pork, beef, and soy, but a little background research showed that China relies on the U.S. for many raw goods. China’s growth in population is extremely high, and as the most agriculturally-productive nation, the U.S. is expected to find ways to help China fill its needs.
In fact, according to this USDA article, in the stretch of time between 1990 and 2003, China’s dependence on U.S. imports quadrupled. This is partially due to increases in economic stability, but the majority of it is because of sheer, massive population growth. Another article by the USDA states that China is following plans to increase its commodity imports from the U.S.
The Mr. Huang Ping also mentioned that rural poverty is incredibly high in China. During the open questions session, I asked if China had any plans to increase agricultural independence and stimulate rural economies. While he spent a few minutes explaining how China’s landscape is different than America’s, he eventually got to a point I wasn’t expecting to hear.
While China’s demands for food have risen exponentially, America’s ability to produce is rising at a slightly slower rate. While we can’t supply them all the food they need, the U.S. is feeding China’s massive, economically-diverse citizens by exporting technology. The traits and tools that American companies like Monsanto and John Deere (yes, I acknowledged John Deere), are providing options and opportunities for China to produce more for themselves on harsher lands than we have here.
America is feeding the world. We’re doing it. Through both production and research, we’re making it possible for people all over the world to eat. What the Consul General said simply proved and solidified that. So, if anyone tries to tell me that the “feeding the world” argument is “old” or “irrelevant,” I’ll point them here. I heard it with my own ears from a high-ranking diplomat. It’s hard to argue with that profound of a truth.