Regional disparities in China, the agricultural aspect
Regional disparities have existed in China, a vast and heterogeneous country with sharply diversified physical, economic, and social conditions, for hundreds, indeed, thousands of years. These disparities, usually represented by the so-called East-West gaps, have been considerably widened since China's "Reform and Opening up" began to take root in the late 1970s. This phenomenon of increasing regional disparities has brought about many social and economic problems. Appropriate attention should be taken by government to curb and gradually reduce the uneven spatial development, which is the result of the interactions of many factors. Spatial variations of agriculture are regarded as both the cardinal cause and one of the consequential effects of the general regional disparities. Understanding such variations will positively contribute to the formulation of solutions to the problem of regional disparities. This study provides a quantitative assessment of the differential performance of agricultural production of both grain and red meat during the period between 1980 and 1990. It focuses on change occurring at both the six macro-regions' level and the provincial level by manipulating the classical shift-and-surface approach. The results obtained indicate that although there was no significant change in the basic spatial patterns present in agriculture, each individual region underwent detailed differences in its performance. These variations resulted from the combination of each area's "regional factors" and its agricultural structure. A good appreciation of these spatial variations in agriculture is a prerequisite for a sound regional policy of agricultural development which should balance the exploitation of regional comparative advantage and the implementation of regional foodgrain self-sufficiency.