Over the past 20 years the growth of China's agricultural economy has been extraordinary. However, it seems unlikely that China will maintain self-sufficiency in grains by 2005 without substantial intervention. We develop a CGE model to assess the options available to Chinese policy makers. We compare the welfare effects of import tariffs and domestic support, and explore the potential of biotechnology as a means to achieve self-sufficiency through improvements in agricultural productivity. Our results indicate that the price interventions that would be required to maintain China's desired self-sufficiency ratios are considerable, and are unlikely to be compatible with WTO accession. The productivity improvements required are also significant, and likely beyond the current potential of biotechnology. © 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.