The right to food as a human right. Professor Libiao Ning presents the Chinese evolution of the issue in Chapter 19 on China NTCs.

The right to food, meaning the right to a culturally acceptable food, without toxic substances, to satisfy natural needs, is recognized as a human right, being part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. As many countries, China is facing this huge challenge, considering its population of about 1.4 billion. According to Rob Baley, an expert in food security at policy institute Chatman House, China is contending with also major challenges: an aging agricultural workforce, pollution, climate change and high levels of soil depletion. Even if the concept of human right is often linked to the idea it was imported by Western countries, professor Libiao Ning in this article highlights that it is worth noting that they are not incompatible with the Chinese traditional culture. The well-known concept of ren (benevolence) lays a cultural foundation for human rights, including the right to food. The Confucian concept of a harmonious society, after all, includes for sure a kind of food security. It is also important to notice that this old principle also became an important part of the governance idea of the Communist Party of China (CPC). Its constitution stipulates that “the chief criterion and general starting point for all our work should be whether it promotes the growth of the productive forces in a socialist society, increases the overall strength of the socialist state and raises living standards.” More recently, “the 2009–2010 National Human Rights Action Plan and the 2012–2015 National Human Rights Action Plan also fully expressed the wish to protect the people’s livelihood. They replaced some customary expressions on livelihood with the phrase of the rights of basic standards of living. The 2010–2011 National Human Rights Action Plan clearly expresses the Chinese government’s political inclination to protect the rights that guarantee a basic standard of living, including the right to food”, professor Libiao wrote. This inclusion clearly means that the concept of ren has remained through the years, living a sort of positive evolution toward a more pragmatic perspective. Since the grain production has always been considered a top priority in China, the government is putting into effect targeted measures to ensure grain production. In addition, it has increased income by raising the employment rate and increasing the lowest salary. Furthermore, big investments are involving also foreign companies: some weeks ago, China state-owned ChemChina finalized its $44 billion purchase of the Swiss pesticides and seeds giant, Syngenta. It was China's biggest foreign takeover of all time. Dow Chemical (DOW) announced that an agriculture fund backed by the Chinese government would pay $1.1 billion for its’ Brazilian corn seed and research business. Chinese firms have spent $91 billion over the past decade purchasing nearly 300 foreign companies involved in agriculture, chemicals and food, according to Dealogic. There are many other steps necessary to protect and ensure the right to food. Firstly, there is the need to base the right to food on the fight against poverty and secondly, the necessity to modify the legislation concerning the right to food. What is sure is that the process has started and there has been an improvement. For sure, the issue of food security regards the Chinese population but has unavoidable consequences on the international dynamics. Being a human right, it is not limited to a national level and there is the urgency to act together and find the proper balance.