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Pandemic After-Effects: Chinese People Concerned About Food Supply

Published: January 6, 2021
This picture taken on June 5, 2017 shows a Chinese farmer preparing to plant rice in a paddy in Nantong in China's eastern Jiangsu Province. CCP virus
This picture taken on June 5, 2017 shows a farmer preparing to plant rice in a paddy in Nantong in China's eastern Jiangsu Province. (Image: STR/AFP via Getty Images)

Several Chinese cities and provinces are seeing a surge in coronavirus cases. As a result, the Chinese government has announced new lockdowns in places like Beijing, Shenyang, Dalian, and so on. The residents from these regions are now not only grappling with the risk of being infected with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, but also facing a strong possibility of running out of food and other essential supplies.

The present lockdown measures imposed in China are extremely severe, with some residential complexes being surrounded by wire fences. These fences are erected by local officials to ensure that people remain inside their homes and do not venture out under any circumstances. Some buildings have steel fences with sharp blades surrounding them. In one video, residents from an apartment building in Dalian can be seen shouting to others, pleading for food and other essentials.

One Dalian resident notes that local officials have stopped assisting people who have run out of food. “We are like lambs to be slaughtered. There’s no way to save ourselves. We don’t know how long we will be locked inside… Now the hottest product in Dalian is a large-sized freezer. Everyone is trying to stock up on a lot of food to deal with the lockdown,” he said to The Epoch Times. In addition to food shortages, Chinese people are also grappling with rising food prices which add to their already distressed financial condition.

According to data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics, corn prices rose by 20 percent last year. The prices of vegetables rose by 6 percent while that of pork surged by 50 percent. The overall food prices in 2020 are believed to have increased by more than 11 percent compared to the previous year.

In some cases, the food shortages are so severe that the only way China can make up for it is through importing. In December, Beijing announced that it was purchasing 100,000 tons of rice from India, something which has not happened in the last three decades. Given the levels of food shortages and rising prices, it is little wonder that forcefully-quarantined Chinese citizens are finding it extremely difficult to procure food.

The present food crisis in China has largely been triggered by three factors

  • Lockdowns: Ever since the pandemic kicked off, China has imposed improper lockdown measures, negatively impacting the food supply chain. For instance, Beijing forced most restaurants to remain closed for an extended duration. This led to reduced purchases of produce, which in turn caused farmers to have insufficient revenues to buy seeds for the current planting season. Shortages of workers in many regions meant some crops were not harvested and others were not planted.
  • Floods and droughts: Multiple floods in 2020 destroyed 13 million acres of agricultural land, causing economic damage worth $29 billion. Some areas also suffered from intense drought, significantly reducing the supplies of crops and meat.
  • African swine fever: This outbreak forced the culling of almost 40 percent of China’s pig population in 2019. As a result, pork prices have risen dramatically. Pork is a staple food of middle-class families in the country, so demand tends to be high despite the shortage, thus driving up prices.
African Swine flu has caused a rise in pork prices
African swine flu has caused a rise in pork prices. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)

In August last year, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences warned that the country could face a “food shortfall” by 2025. The CCP is promoting “anti-food wastage” policies, which is a clear indication that the entire country is undergoing some sort of food crisis. State-backed Xinhua reported that the government is considering a policy that will force restaurants and catering services to enforce anti-waste laws. The caterers could be punished if they fail to enforce the laws.

“Catering service providers should adopt measures to minimize food waste such as improving the management systems for food purchasing, storage, and processing. They should post signs to remind customers to refrain from ordering excessive food … they can charge customers for wasting food… Catering service providers who encourage or mislead consumers to order excess food and cause obvious waste … should be warned. If they refuse to make corrections, they can be fined between 1,000 yuan and 10,000 yuan,” states the article.

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