(TibetanReview.net, Nov03’21) – Amid rising tensions across the Taiwan Straits, bad weather, rising vegetable prices, energy shortages and Covid-19 restrictions that threaten to disrupt supplies as winter approaches, the Chinese government has called on citizens to stock up on food and other daily essentials, with recommendations of household emergency supplies. The move sparked concern of possible food shortages, new Covid-19 outbreaks or a likely offensive by China to capture Taiwan, noted the PTI news agency Nov 2.
However, it was the speculation linking the government move to the Taiwan question which prompted officials from the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), East China’s Jiangsu and Shandong Provinces to offer clarification on Nov 2, saying the notices were part of regular government efforts to help residents prepare for potential emergencies, according to China’s official globaltimes.cn Nov 2.
The report noted that “as tension was running high across the Taiwan Straits with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authority on the island and the US recklessly walking a tightrope near the red line drawn by the Chinese mainland,” some on social media associated the official call with emergency preparation, with some even speculating that the notices could be a sign of potential outbreak of a war across the Taiwan Straits.
A sentence at the end of the MOFCOM Nov 1 statement “encouraging families to store a certain amount of daily necessities in accordance with their needs to meet daily and emergency needs,” was stated to have drawn the most attention from some social media accounts the next morning.
The report claimed that the announcement did not spark any panic buying. However, it added, topics related to it topped search trends on Sina Weibo on Nov 2.
What further fuelled speculations were screenshots of “recommended list of household emergency supplies” issued by local authorities in Jiangsu and Jinan, capital of Shandong, which were also linked by some social media posts to the Taiwan question, the report said. The list was stated to include items such as instant noodles, bottled water, compressed biscuits and luncheon meat.
The local authorities have now claimed that issuing such a checklist was “normal work arrangement” aimed at improving disaster mitigation and self-rescue on account of more frequent extreme weather conditions and natural disasters this year.
The Global Times said it contacted at least seven merchants on China’s e-commerce platforms, with all saying inquiries for compressed biscuits had increased, with one merchant saying his biscuits stock was all sold out.