China Tells Citizens to Stockpile Food, Sparking Fears Over Shortages, War With Taiwan

The Chinese government has issued a notice to its citizens urging them to stockpile household necessitates ahead of the winter months, sparking speculation that food shortages may be mounting as tensions mount with neighbouring Taiwan.

China’s Ministry of Commerce urged local authorities to ensure that an adequate supply of food is maintained and that prices are stabilized ahead of winter, including household staples such as meat, vegetables, and cooking oil. “Families are encouraged to store a certain amount of daily necessities to meet the needs of daily life and emergencies,” the ministry said in a statement seen by the South China Morning Post.

However, the warning created significant concern online, sending the hashtag “Ministry of Commerce encourages households to stockpile daily necessities as needed” trending with over 40 million views on Chinese social media site Weibo. Some individuals attributed the warning to a potential escalation of tensions with Taiwan, as the independent island in China’s southeastern coast strengthens ties with the US, to the ire of Beijing.

The online speculation prompted the Ministry of Commerce’s director of consumption promotion, Zhu Xiaoliang, to ease worries and assure Chinese consumers that there currently isn’t a threat to the country’s food supply. “Looking at the current situation, all regions have an adequate supply of daily necessities, the supply should be completely guaranteed,” Zhu explained in an interview with China’s broadcaster CCTV.

Likewise, the Economic Daily, a state-operated newspaper, also published a piece in an effort to quell rising concerns over the ministry’s apparently dire warning. “In the long run, it is also advocating for residents to improve their awareness of emergency management, increase the household reserve of necessary commodities to supplement the national emergency system,” the newspaper explained, attributing the notice in relation to more potential Covid-19 outbreaks.

Food prices across China have risen substantially as of late, with the average price of 19 common vegetables surging 49.1% year-over-year in October, according to data cited from the Ministry of Agriculture. To further underscore the steep increase in food prices across China, the average wholesale price of a variety of 28 vegetables is up 16% from the month before.

The recent price acceleration for staple household items has caused concern among some economists, who fear that cost-push inflation is spreading to food products. Other experts have atributed the government’s call for stockpiling as an effort to ignite additional consumer spending across China’s economy. “The government’s encouragement to reserve materials may also be related to boosting consumption, stimulating domestic demand and promoting economic growth,” Chinese independent economist Liu Zhengshan said in a post on Weibo seen by the SCMP.

Information for this briefing was found via the SCMP. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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