“Eat Free, Work Hard”

TTT New Delhi:  China’s President Xi Jinping has reportedly earned his peoples’ wrath for ignoring the dietary needs of 1.4 billion people. 

At present China is facing a massive food shortage with prices having increased by over 15 per cent, and pork products in particular suffering. 

This is seen largely as the outcome of a combination of a deluge in the Yangtze river basin, crop damage, and African swine flu.

People are now left dreading the intensity of the problems they face, which some have said could be worse than the 1959 famine.  

Xi Jinping’s ‘Clean Plate’ programme has, instead of earning laurels, generated a nationwide displeasure against the statesmanship of the president who is still proclaiming that China’s grain output has increased over the past year, even though Beijing has been forced to roll out over a million tons of rice, soy bean and corn from its national reserves recently. 

According to Jianli Yang, published on the internet opinion portal ‘The Hill’, the Chinese Academy of Social Science has already stressed the need for agricultural reforms to curb the  food shortfall, otherwise the situation will worsen  in the coming years. 

Yang, a Tainanmen massacre survivor, also wrote that ‘It is difficult to ascertain the real situation since information coming out of China may not reflect the true severity of the crisis. However, Xi’s statements on the need for “gastronomic discipline” are reminiscent of similar instructions issued by Mao in 1959, at the beginning of the Great Famine (1958-1962). A combination of factors indicate that China is at risk of this history repeating itself — a massive food shortage that could worsen into one of its biggest crises since the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949.’

A researcher with the State-run Rural Development Institute, Li Guoxiang, told an international news agency, AFP, that food resources in China are not enough to support the people. 

In India, recently at loggerheads with China over Beijing’s territorial aspirations in the Indian areas of the Himalayas, sympathies were limited.

The McMahon Line forms the northern border of the area shown in red

When asked for an opinion on the food crisis in China, a real-estate dealer in East Delhi, S. Babbar, said that it was sad that Chinese are feeling the pinch in the prices of common daily-use veggies and pork while the food shortage continues, but “ It’s divine justice. China has bitten us several times and now god is troubling them,” he added. 

Given divergent claims, this is a propitious time at which Xi Jinping can re-examine the problems of his people and come up with concrete plans to resurrect their already flagging morale on the back of global condemnation for the COVID-pandemic and territorial clashes with nations around Asia. 

Not only this, the people are worried about health problems that may occur if the food shortage condition worsens. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has reiterated several times that acute food paucity ‘is often associated with factors which increase the risk of communicable diseases’ and this is more horrifying for the already depressed Chinese after the deprivations they have suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Yet, despite Xi Jinping being aware of the illness of his people, and the subsequent weakness and pain that will follow due to malnutrition if price hikes continue, he is taking it lightly.  

Already, pork products have gone beyond the common man’s reach. 

And no blueprints are in sight as to how to combat the reemergence of the COVID pandemic in China this week. 

Indian doctors who spoke to The Taiwan Times were of the general opinion that Chinese youth will suffer mental health problems in the case that food shortages persist.

“This is a grave matter and President Xi Jinping should give it a serious thought,” said Indian doctor specialising in mental health, Dr S.S. Mann, adding “(it) is now over 200 million people in China (understood to be) suffering from mental disorders, and their treatment is being obstructed by the strict social norms that are being forced upon the population.” 

Though mental health clinics first opened in Beijing and Shanghai in 1979, cultural belief that patients visiting them would be subjected to ridicule in society prevented genuine sufferers from getting the treatment they need. 

But this is just a lone outcome of current Chinese policies and actions – one of many China will face if Xi Jinping does not put his people first and speak truthfully on the food shortage China faces whilst at the same time abandoning his immediate goal of becoming the second Mao. 


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