Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


International Relations

First Advisor's Name

Mohiaddin Mesbahi

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Thomas Breslin

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Gail Hollander

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Zeng Jin

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


Food Security, Non-traditional Security, Foreign Policy, China

Date of Defense



The purpose of this dissertation is to examine how the People’s Republic of China has used domestic and foreign policy to achieve and maintain food security. This is a formidable task for the PRC given that it has 20% of the world’s population and only 7% of its arable land. It has been made more formidable by domestic policy errors and its changing position within the international system.

The PRC has evolved from a Marxist revisionist state to one that mixes state capitalism and free enterprise and has become a combination of revisionist and status quo. Such changes lend themselves to process-tracing as a methodology in order to reveal the rationale behind the change and the resulting impact on food security. To capture this evolution, a food paradigm is constructed for various eras that reflect domestic influences on food security. To this is added the international aspect; the choice of what countries it would or could trade with, as needed. Together the domestic and international are combined to obtain a complete view of the food paradigm and resulting food security situation for each era.

In pursuing food security this dissertation will focus on rice, wheat, soybeans, and maize, the prime grains for human consumption and animal feed in the PRC. These grains provide much of the caloric intake of the population as well as being the prime reserve products. The results show that these products have been used as a tool of foreign policy to reward or punish other states by adjusting their imports and exports to send political messages as seen fit. The PRC has always maintained a diversified import supply base, but as imports have continued to grow, the supply base is expanding. Expansion is not through land-grabbing but by contract growing by local farmers in less developed countries and leasing land in developed countries, both on previously uncultivated lands. Simultaneously, there are efforts to improve grain production in African countries, among others. Increasing output there will increase total world supply, an indirect benefit to the PRC food security and to its image abroad.





Rights Statement

Rights Statement

In Copyright. URI:
This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).