According to a recent Reuters report, China has put 28 million people in lockdown amid an unexpected surge in viral cases in several major cities. The widespread shutdown of businesses and consumers confinement is putting strains on the Chinese economy. However, the Chinese official state-run press agency is warning that government officials should not “cry wolf” and be too quick to affirm that they are entering “wartime mode” because that could spark “unnecessary panic and affect normal production”.
But the warning seemed to have arrived a little too late since panic-buying tendencies have already been resumed and are already compromising the amount of available supplies. According to TruthAbtChina, strict government measures to keep citizens in lockdown are scaring the population and causing the exact opposite effect officials have been trying to avert. “People have been escaping quarantined communities in the recent lockdowns in China. In response, the CCP is putting a seal on the door of each apartment. The stickers say: If the seal is broken, there will be legal consequences,” disclosed the account.
Just as we’ve seen multiple times in America, the idea of a generalized confinement and the threat of legal repercussions inevitably generate panic amongst the population. And, of course, in China, things haven’t been different. TruthAbtChina divulged last Saturday that “people are hoarding food in the wake of the forced lockdowns all over China. In an attempt to keep food on the shelves, grocery stores have more than tripled the price of many food items. This has only amplified the chaos and panic in grocery stores”. Moreover, the Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily unveiled that grocery prices Shijiazhuang, in northern China, have soared by 50% since lockdowns were reinstituted.
The National Bureau of Statistics informed that in December, the consumer price index rose more than economists predicted, at 0.2 percent on-year, with prices surging the most in fresh produce and meats ahead of Chinese nationwide holidays. For the full year of 2020, consumer prices increased 2.5 percent on-year.
As the nation is largely reliant on international imports to keep up with demand, and global food prices are going up, China won’t be spared. Although Chinese government agencies do not make the real numbers public, analysts are alerting the growing global food prices will likely have a major impact on food security in Asian countries. The Food and Agriculture Organization’s Food Price Index found that world food prices rose for a seventh consecutive month in December. Last month, global food prices hit a six-year high, and economists are forecasting that this upward trend in prices will continue to rise in 2021.
As a result, food inflation is about to add much more pressure on the population, as hunger crises are emerging throughout the world. In a recent statement, the senior economist at the FAO, Abdolreza Abbassian maintained that “Food inflation is a reality. While people have lost income, they are as we speak going through a tremendously difficult hardship. The real impact is the access to food. People have lost their income. There are a lot of unhappy people and this is a recipe for social turbulence.”
Although prices have not yet reached the same levels seen in 2008, analysts say that this spike in prices for basic food staples should be seen as a red flag since it potentially has revolutionary implications amid a growing social, economic and political crisis of global dimensions. As Abbassian outlined: “if [people] realize the vaccine won’t solve the problems in the near term and they don’t have food, then things could get out of control”.
That is to say, if authorities don’t act to reverse this situation soon enough, we are likely to see a dangerous rise in social tensions and civil instability in 2021, in proportions that could lead to a widespread social destabilization and incite much more chaos all over the world.