In multiple cities across China, locals have emptied store shelves, stockpiling rice and cooking oil as fears of food shortages accelerate.
Mr. Li, a resident of Ezhou, a city in Hubei Province, told the Chinese-language Epoch Times that locals have been rushing to buy rice for the past two days. It’s the same scene in other cities in Hubei, including Wuhan, Huanggang, and Yichang, according to social media and Chinese media reports.
Officials have stepped in to try to ease the panic. On March 31, the market regulation bureau of the municipal government in Ezhou urged, in a statement on its Weibo account, that people shouldn’t frantically buy up supplies, and assured that the city has abundant rice and oil for all its residents for a year. Weibo is a Twitter-like social media platform.
The municipal government of Huanggang also released a statement on Weibo, telling people on March 31 to stop buying up rice and oil, and saying that any information about the city facing a food shortage were rumors.
Outside of Hubei, residents of China’s Shandong and Gansu provinces also cleared store shelves of rice and oil.
A resident surnamed Chen living in Changyi city, Shandong, told the Chinese-language Epoch Times that locals have been snapping up bags of rice from stores.
A video circulating on social media showed people making large purchases of rice, noodles, and cooking oil at stores located in the Linxia Hui region of Gansu.
The panic-buying was fueled by posts on Chinese social media claiming that some countries may soon ban food exports due to the current pandemic. That’s led to a large increase in the prices of rice and cooking oil in China.
Global SuppliesSome experts have warned about a possible global food shortage amid widespread disruptions due to the pandemic. The CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, first emerged in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province, and has since spread to more than 200 countries and territories. More than 45,000 people outside of mainland China have died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
“In the midst of the COVID-19 lockdowns, every effort must be made to ensure that trade flows as freely as possible, especially to avoid food shortage.”
As of press time, India and Thailand, the world’s largest and second-largest rice exporters, haven’t announced any restrictions on rice exports.
Shortage in China?While Chinese authorities have come out publicly to appease fears of food shortages, netizens aren’t convinced, after a leaked government document began circulating online. The Epoch Times couldn’t independently verify the veracity of the document.
The document also stated that regional authorities must “guide the public to consciously stock up,” and make sure that “each household has enough food for 3 to 6 months, in case of unexpected circumstances.”