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China to Increase Grain Imports
Grain imports are to be increased as policy-makers strive to ease pressure on resources and the environment by a growing population and quickening urbanization.

"The State and Outlook of China's Food Security" - a white paper the country prepared for the 2002 World Food Summit - said Chinese people's subsistence needs and food security are fully guaranteed.

"Since the 1996 World Food Summit, the Chinese Government has made tremendous efforts to ensure food security for the people," said the document.

"However, there still exist some problems which cannot be neglected."

Between 1996 and 2001, China's per capita grain and meat availability approached 400 kilograms and 40 kilograms, respectively, both exceeding the global average, according to the policy paper obtained by China Daily Monday.

In the coming 20 years, China will see an annual net population increase of 10 million, while urbanization will expand at a rate of up to 1 percent a year, stated the policy paper delivered at the 2002 summit, which opened Monday in Rome.

Chinese Vice-Premier Wen Jiabao is attending the four-day gathering, which is expected to craft new plans to achieve the goal of halving the number of people who suffer from hunger by 2015.

Population growth and an accelerated pace of urbanization in China will further strain the relationship between population, resources and environment, said the document.

"Given the rise in demand, a shortage of water and land resources and degradation of the ecological environment, China will be faced with a contradiction between population, resources and environment in its efforts to ensure food security in the future," it stated.

To alleviate the pressure, China will fully utilize the opportunities of trade liberalization to appropriately increase grain imports, while sticking to its established policy of relying on domestic resources to achieve basic food self-sufficiency, said the document.

In listing the policy support for national food security in China, the white paper said the nation will continue to adjust domestic food supply and demand through the international grain market.

The government will reform agricultural policies to make external trade in agricultural products conform with relevant international rules and its transparency will be increased, according to the document.

It also stated China is committed to maintaining basic farmland of no less than 108.53 million hectares and cultivated land of at least 128 million hectares by 2005.

China will accelerate the process of establishing a "from-land-to-table" quality control system, and make sure that testing, inspection and certification of agricultural products for international trade are carried out in compliance with the relevant rules of the World Trade Organization, stated the document.

(China Daily June 11, 2002)

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