In a shameful show of authoritarianism, the Chinese Communist Party General-Secretary Xi Jinping has decided to go the Mao way. What to eat and how much to eat- the CCP wants to decide it all for the Chinese people, as Xi Jinping is telling them to ‘eat less’ and has launched the ‘Clean Plates campaign’ to curb the leftovers problem. These are ominous signs as China heads towards a major famine situation, possibly triggered by Xi Jinping’s decisions in the first place.
Xi Jinping’s campaign has an uncanny similarity with Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro’s Plan Conejo or ‘Plan Rabbit’, wherein the Communist leader plans to fight the country’s hunger problem. Venezuela, once the most prosperous of Latin American countries, has been rendered impoverished under the reign of two consecutive radical socialists- Hugo Chavez and Maduro, so much so that Venezuelans are forced to eat rabbits for survival.
Reckless authoritarian policies can push a country towards starvation and destitution, and China is no exception. Ravaged by a Pandemic of its own making, artificially controlled floods, and reckless trade wars with the US and tariff battles with Australia are pushing the Middle Kingdom towards a major catastrophe. Further hit by locusts and swine fever, food prices have shot up drastically in the country.
According to a Bloomberg report, the CCP General-Secretary Xi Jinping wants the 1.4 billion Chinese people to clean their plates. Xi Jinping’s latest initiative is aimed at controlling the “shocking and distressing” problem of discarded leftovers.
President Xi Jinping even cited a Tang dynasty poem in order to send across the message- “know that each grain on your plate comes from the labour of peasants.” Food wastage is a major issue in China and according to a 2015 estimate by the World Wildlife Fund, China wastes 17-18 million tons every year that can feed as many as 50 million people.
But this is not just a government ‘campaign’. Xi Jinping wants to enforce his diktat brutally because he foresees public resentment fuelled by a hunger problem in the country. This is why the Chinese legislature, State media and CCP government-run organisations have started pushing the ‘Clean Plates campaign’.
The National People’s Congress, China’s highest law-making body is fast-tracking legislation for strict enforcement of frugal food consumption. Chinese State media outlets too are naming and shaming those over-consuming food and catering associations are coercing eateries to offer smaller portions of food.
China has been facing food shortage risks for the past one year. According to SCMP, China was hit by armyworms feeding upon crops that spread over a million hectares of farmland. The Chinese food industry was further debilitated by what Beijing described as the ‘African’ Swine fever that led to the rampant culling of pigs in China.
Recently, China has been hit by locust swarms. The Southwest Chinese province of Yunnan is facing a major locust invasion. “Many farmers have expressed concerns over the incursion expected to last until September,” Chinese State media outlet, CGTN, reported last month.
According to official Chinese numbers, the year on year food prices have jumped 10 per cent in China, and the cost of pork has climbed by 86 per cent. And the future of the Chinese agricultural sector doesn’t seem very bright either.
Chinese economy itself is in tatters owing to the US-China trade wars, a flight of companies away from China and shrinking world trade. China has claimed a magical rebound bolstered by a 3.2 per cent GDP growth in the second quarter of the ongoing Financial Year.
But here’s the real thing- there are no ‘magical’ rebounds in economic growth and China’s numbers are anyhow unreliable. There are clear signs of the Chinese economy shrinking further from the 6.8 per cent dip in the April quarter.
Therefore, when Central China was hit by massive floods, mainstream cities like Wuhan were at the threat of getting submerged. Already facing an economic downturn, Xi Jinping decided to ‘sacrifice’ villages for the sake of saving big cities. In the process, CCP might have ended up ravaging China’s farmlands with ferocious floods. This decision has proved to be Jinping’s ‘smash sparrow’ campaign moment.
Rural China had always been dependent on grains for their food. But in 1958, the People’s Republic of China’s founding father Mao Zedong had issued a strange diktat asking the people of his country to kill all of China’s sparrows. The move had backfired as Chinese agriculture was hit by uncontrollable insect infestations. Famines and starvation had followed in China in which over 50 million died, and the CCP regime started encouraging the people of China to somehow survive by eating anything that moves.
Xi Jinping has taken a lot more upon himself than he can manage including the imposition of 80 per cent import tariffs on Australian Barley and a ban on meat imports from four Australian abattoirs. Cutting down on Australian imports are bound to aggravate China’s food shortage woes even further.
Xi Jinping’s reckless actions have gotten him very close to being China’s next Mao Zedong, but in all the wrong ways. Flooding of villages and security disputes with agricultural import sources like Australia and the US are pushing China into a crippling food crisis. China’s latest farm woes prove how Communism can plunge any nation into a crisis from the oil-rich Venezuela to an export giant like China.