China urges local authorities to ensure supplies of necessities as winter approaches

China has instructed families to stock up on daily essentials in the event of an emergency amid COVID-19 outbreaks and unusually heavy rainfall throughout the country. 

The commerce ministry issued a statement late on Monday directing local authorities to ensure stable pricing and adequate supplies in their communities. It added that officials should aim to give advance warnings of supply-related issues, Reuters reported.

The ministry also said local authorities should buy vegetables that are easily stored and added that emergency delivery networks should be strengthened. The country’s recent unusual weather has raised concerns about supply shortages and increased the price of vegetables, according to Reuters. 

“As soon as this news came out, all the old people near me went crazy panic-buying in the supermarket,” someone said on Weibo, a Chinese social media platform similar to Twitter, per Reuters.

Local media recommended stocking up on things like biscuits, instant noodles, vitamins, radios and flashlights. But the government’s instructions prompted some concerns that the alert may have been in response to China’s recent tensions with Taiwan, Reuters added.

On Tuesday, The Economic Daily, a Communist Party newspaper, attempted to assuage those concerns and urged people not to have “too much of an overactive imagination,” the news service said. It added that the announcement was simply so people would be prepared if a lockdown went into effect in the area.

In China, the government usually encourages a push for supplies of fresh vegetables and pork in anticipation of the country’s Lunar New Year in February. But in October, extreme weather destroyed crops in Shandong, China’s biggest vegetable-producing region.

Since then, prices for items like cucumbers, spinach and broccoli had more than doubled as of last week, Reuters reported. 

Reuters noted that China has also said it intends to make use of vegetable reserves to address the rising cost of vegetables, though it is unclear how big those reserves are and what their supplies include.
Tags China Chinese economy COVID-19 lockdowns extreme weather

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