U.S.-China Economic Relations: Present and Future

By Richard H. Holton; Wang Xi et al. | Go to book overview

15. Sino-American Agricultural Economic Relations: Status and Prospects

ZHANG ZHONGLI and XIE ZIFENG

Although the political and economic system of China and that of the United States are different and there is a disparity between their levels of scientific and technological development, agriculture occupies an important position in the development of the national economy in both countries. The development or decline, success or failure, of agriculture can affect the overall situation of the national economy. Not only is agriculture the source of food and clothing and the means of existence of human society, but it is also the foundation and premise of development of other branches of the national economy. The level of development of agricultural production and the level of agricultural labor productivity in large measure restrain the scale and rate of development of the other branches of the national economy.

China is a large socialist country with a population of 1.1 billion, of which 800 million are peasants; thus agriculture occupies an important position in her national economy. "For the masses, food is of paramount importance" is a well-known Chinese saying. Agriculture in our country first of all has the task of supplying food and clothing for 1.1 billion people. The daily needs of grain and foodstuffs for such a large population must be met by agricultural production. At present, only about 20 percent of clothing materials are synthetic, while 80 percent are cotton, hemp, or woolen products provided by agricultural production, and 70 percent of the fuel for cooking and heating in the countryside consists of agricultural products such as straw or firewood.1 Construction materials such as timber, sand, and bricks also fall mainly into the agricultural sector. Suffice it to say, the agricultural situation in our country is directly related to the basic survival of one-fourth of the world's population. The proportion of agricultural products as raw materials in the output value of our industry,

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1
Data provided by the Agricultural Section of the Institute of Sectorial Economics of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.

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