China's on-going campaign to encourage mealtime thrift indicates that the country is headed for a food crisis. Last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping, underscored in a speech the importance of saving food. “Waste is shameful and thriftiness is honourable. The phenomenon of waste in relation to food is appalling and distressing,” Xi said.
Quoting a poem, Xi said, “Who knows that of our meal in the dish, every grain comes after hard toil?” He added, “We should still maintain a sense of crisis about food security. The impact of this year’s Covid-19 pandemic has sounded the alarm.”
“Clean Plate Campaign” launched in August is aimed at curbing food use without prompting public alarm.
The campaign comes after weeks of mass flooding across the country wiped out crops and trade war with the US and other countries. The Covid-19 outbreak, along with other reasons, has already paralysed the Chinese economy, contributing to rising food prices.
“The situation has been further compounded by plagues of locusts and fall armyworm infestations in other regions, where fields have been stripped bare, and three huge typhoons last month making landfall in northeastern China,” observes an editorial appeared in the Taipei Times.
Notably, as much as 20% to 30% of China’s grains are imported, according to estimates.
“Restaurants across the nation are dishing out “half-servings” in line with the drive. Some, like upscale Peking duck chain Quanjude, have instructed servers to nag diners not to waste. Other restaurants are fining people for leaving too much on their plates,” says a report in the Washington Post.
Reports suggest that even billionaire Jack Ma, founder of the online retail giant Alibaba, has been filmed trying to save food. A recent viral video shows him asking for his unfinished crab and lobster to be boxed up to go. “Pack it up, pack it up, pack it up!” he says in the video. “I will eat it on the plane.”
According to the Taipei Times, “If there is a serious food shortage, which requires rationing, or even a famine, Xi would need the mother of all distractions — and a small border war with India probably would not cut it. Chinese military aircraft are on an almost daily basis probing Taiwan’s air defence identification zone. Xi might be trying to goad Taiwan into a first strike.”