According to The Guardian, Chinese families have been encouraged to stockpile daily necessities, prompting panic buying, amid surging vegetable prices linked to recent extreme weather, supply shortage fears, and an ongoing Covid outbreak.
A notice posted late Monday on the website of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce urged local authorities to stabilise prices and families “to store a certain amount of daily necessities as needed to meet daily life and emergencies”.
It sparked some concern and speculation, including that it was related to rising tensions with Taiwan. According to the report, related hashtags were viewed more than 18 million times.
“As soon as this news came out, all the old people near me went crazy panic buying in the supermarket,” wrote one user on Weibo.
State media urged calm, and Zhu Xiaoliang, a senior commerce ministry official, told CCTV that “the supply of daily necessities is sufficient everywhere,” but different explanations for the notice were offered.
Some claim that the commerce department frequently issues such warnings in the weeks leading up to national holidays, while the People’s Daily claims that the ministry issued its instruction earlier this year in response to natural disasters, a spike in vegetable prices, and recent Covid cases.
The Economic Daily, a state-backed newspaper, warned residents not to have “too much of an overactive imagination,” but also stated that the directive was related to the outbreak and was intended to ensure people were prepared in the event of a lockdown.