Studies on land use change and food security in China have often neglected the regional variability of land use change and food production conditions. This study explores the various components of agricultural production in China in a spatially explicit way. Included are changes in agricultural area, multiple cropping index, input use, technical efficiency and technological change. Different research methodologies are used to analyse these components of agricultural production. The methodologies are all based on semi-empirical analyses of land use patterns in relation to biophysical and socio-economical explanatory factors. The results indicate that different processes and patterns of land use change are found in various parts of the country. Large inefficiencies in the use of agricultural inputs and relatively low input use are especially found in some of the rural, less endowed, western regions of China, which indicates that in these regions of China increases in grain yield are well possible. The spatially explicit results might help to focus agricultural policies to the appropriate regions.