Links Between China’s “Virtual Land Use” and Farmland Loss

Canadian Journal of Development Studies. 2018, (Online)

China has experienced notable loss of farmland and increase in food imports during the past three decades. This article provides an econometric examination of the interactions between virtual land use through food trade and farmland loss in China. The results show that net virtual land imports have grown from 2.37 million hectares (Mha) in 1987 to 33.51 Mha in 2013, accounting for one-quarter of China’s farmland in 2013. The analysis on causality indicates there has been bidirectional feedback: the aggravated farmland conversion stimulated virtual land imports, which in turn increased construction encroachment on farmland.

Zhiying Xu, Taiyang Zhong, Steffanie Scott, Yumei Tang, Guoliang Xu, Qiong He