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Xi’s Clean Plate Campaign may lead to hoarding, inflation, panic

The Chinese have been hit by panic, fear and confusion, with President Xi Jinping calling for Clean Plate Campaign last month to reduce the wastage of food. Foreign policy analysts said that the campaign will lead to aggressive hoarding and may eventually result in overall price rise.

While they said that the campaign is a preventive measure aimed at food security amid extensive floods all across the dragon nation, it has also given rise to unprecedented anxiety among citizens. According to news reports, customers visiting restaurants would be allowed to order food based on their body weight to avoid wastage and unnecessary eating.

Even as China clocked a 3.2 per cent GDP growth in the April-June quarter of the current year, uncertainty has been the order of the day with shrinking global export orders, increasing hostility with other countries including India, US and Australia and high unemployment rate.

B.R. Deepak, expert on China and Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), said that China’s foreign exchange reserves at over $3 trillion is the largest in the world and that there was no immediate threat to the country. “The campaign is meant to ensure food security especially as the country has been wrecked by severe floods but China has managed to register an economic growth, so the fear and panic are uncalled for,” Deepak told IndiaNarrative.com.

However, analysts said that such stringent and knee-jerk measure sends out a panic alarm. “There are bound to be apprehensions over such measures. Many local Chinese are unhappy and with the current government’s high-handed measures. Things have just got worse,” one of the two analysts said, adding that military aggression that Beijing has embarked on has made citizens as well as policymakers jittery.

In July, the Communist Party of China imposed restrictions on cash withdrawals from banks in its Hebei province. Similar measures will be put in place in Zhejiang Province and the city of Shenzhen from October as per a plan chalked out by the People's Bank of China. China has been aggressively financing projects under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) but the efficacy of the same has been questioned especially as several countries—hit by the global recession—have indicated their inability to repay.

China’s unemployment rate in July was 5.7 per cent. Though this was lower than 6.2 per cent recorded in April, analysts said that the picture does not reflect the ground reality as it does not take into account jobs in the unorganized sector or even the rural areas. “The actual unemployment rate could be much higher than what is being projected,” another analyst told IndiaNarrative.com..