UN report does not accurately reflect China’s food security conditions

By Wang Yi Source:Global Times Published: 2019/8/20 16:08:40

The 8.5 percent Prevalence of Undernourishment (PoU) shown in a recent UN food security report has failed to accurately represent China's actual situation and the progress the country has made in poverty elimination over the past decade.

The problem of hunger has now been effectively eliminated across China, except for in rare and extreme conditions. 

China's PoU is estimated to be less than 0.5 percent and the country is expected to make greater progress in poverty alleviation this year, said experts.

China's PoU from 2016 to 2018 was 8.5 percent, according to the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2019, an annual report issued on July 15 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). India's PoU was 14.5 percent from 2016 to 2018, the report said.

Yet Feng Juan, an official with the FAO's Statistics Division, said in an interview posted on news.un.org on July 19 that the 8.5 percent figure does not correspond to the real situation in China.

China solved the problem of food and clothing shortages a long time ago. The current issue is whether or not the foods available are nutritious, Feng said.

China's estimation was not accurate because the data obtained was from 1999. The report did not reflect the transformation of China's hunger issue over the last two decades. The 8.5-percent figure can't reflect the real condition as the data is obsolete, Feng said.

China's PoU is estimated to affect less than 0.5 percent of its total population by the end of 2019, according to experts.

China doesn't have its own PoU statistics, but its equivalent indicator is the rural poor population, Li Guoxiang, a research fellow at the Rural Development Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

China's definitions of being lifted out of poverty include, but are not limited to, food security, Li said.

The number of rural poor in China reduced from 98.99 million at the end of 2012 to 16.6 million at the end of 2018, with the rate of poverty dropping from 10.2 percent to 1.7 percent, official data shows.

A guideline issued on August 19, 2018, reiterates the country's target of lifting all rural poor and impoverished counties out of poverty and eliminating absolute poverty by 2020 to build a moderately prosperous society.

The guideline shows that the standards of being lifted out of poverty included the guarantee of food and clothing, the guarantee of nine years of compulsory education, coverage of basic medical needs and the guarantee of basic living conditions.

A reduction of over 10 million of the Chinese rural poor population will be reached, the Report on the Work of the Government 2019 read, which means the rural poor population will be 6.6 million by the end of this year. The number accounts for less than 0.5 percent of China's total population.

The problem of hunger only exists in irregular conditions such as an elderly person with no family who has not been reached by assistance, which was a very rare occurrence found in our research, Ma Wenfeng, a Beijing-based agricultural analyst told the Global Times over the weekend.

The issue of nutritional imbalance, however, does need to be improved on a small scale, Ma said.


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