Shanghai, China: COVID and Food Struggles
Asking the Hard Questions
In recent news, a COVID wave has hit China. Instead of a measured and appropriate response, China has appeared to go into extreme, total, local lockdowns as part of its “zero COVID” policy. Compounding this situation are food shortages. As we’ve explored elsewhere on Muzzle Velocity, there is a coming worldwide food shortage because of the Russo-Ukraine War.
As a friend with tremendous experience in African geopolitics said, “Potentially millions of people could die on the [sic. African] continent.” Now the question arises too, what kind of human suffering will occur in the wealthier parts of the world. Given China’s status as a rising power with substantial development difficulties but tremendous ability to marshal its political and economic will, it will be fascinating to watch how China handles the situation.
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So far, not well. China is a country heavily dependent on food imports. To begin with, over the last couple of years, China has suffered from rising demand, decreases or difficulties in food production, and general dysfunction in the agricultural sector. The COVID-19 virus, likely leaked from a Chinese bio-lab in Wuhan, caused immense damage to Chinese agrarian self-sufficiency. While pundit claims of China’s great power demise are greatly exaggerated, the current great power struggle between the United States and China puts China in a disadvantageous position with its routine food problems.
Reportedly, the Chinese government is rationing food because of the COVID lockdowns in Shanghai. According to multiple sources, food is scarce, with looting beginning in some places of the city. Other people are facing starvation. Whatever food service app the locals use to acquire their day’s food experiences daily shortages.
Lockdowns over a recent breakout of Coronavirus where there are no public reports of deaths? While China is an authoritarian, communist country with a history of heavy-handed responses to Coronavirus, I think we should take a more critical look at the lockdowns.
Eli Klein @TheEliKleinMy friend is “starving” in lockdown in Shanghai. They give him 6 largehead hairtail fish and some vegetables each week, no other food. He says poorer people just get vegetables, no fish, and that he’s outcompeted at 5am every day for ordering food online. This isn’t sustainable..
With worldwide food shortages coming, and China’s history of mismanaging public works and its institutional corruption, perhaps the expansion of the lockdowns are because of the food shortages. It’s easier to control food riots if people aren’t allowed to assemble and travel outside their designated zones. That is not to say that there isn’t another COVID outbreak; it is still a plausible and likely part of the narrative. However, with sufficient disruption in food supply to a major city like Shanghai, Chinese authorities would take measures to tamp down civil disturbances.
Given how the Chinese government tightly controlled the worldwide dissemination of news, we are only sure of the chaos occurring in Shanghai. Perhaps there are other places with more narrow food shortages in more remote or rural areas of China.
This situation is a perfect storm of exaggerated responses to COVID, causing unintended damage to civil society and causing a much larger disaster. The truth and extent of chaos in Shanghai will reveal themselves in time. No, it’s unlikely to destabilize the national government significantly. More likely, it will cause inter-elite strain in the Chinese Communist Party leadership, with some seat changes occurring. However, it shows deep problems with the Chinese system despite its aggressive purchases of foodstuffs.
Post-Script: A lot of new videos were dropped overnight, including bags of cats and dogs still alive to be butchered and consumed. Very dark times. The people in the West who agitate on behalf of China, a country that cannot manage its own supply chain such that it industrializes the consumption of its pets, are reprehensible. Unbelievable amounts of suffering occurring in Shanghai, currently.