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Think Outside The Box

As China faces severe food crisis, Xi Jinping regime adopts censorship to tackle problem

China is suffering from a severe food crisis. The food prices in China have been shot up, adding to the miseries of the citizens, but the communist regime once again has adopted censorship, not to curb dissent this time, but to overcome its food crisis.

The state-controlled media and social media have been tasked with a comprehensive programme to censor content related to food and to flood the internet with propaganda materials to prevent food wastage.

According to a report of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) owned news platform Global Times, China’s popular short-video platform Douyin has taken steps to ‘rectify’ live streaming eating shows. The platform plans to censor content as well as penalize those who search for keywords like “eating show” or “competitive eater”. Besides, searching such keywords would also lead to sermons on the value of food.

On similar lines, other social media platforms like Douyu, Sina Weibo, and Kuaishou have also taken steps to censor content and penalise whosoever is interested in food or eating videos involving large quantities of food. Most of these platforms have also gone to the extent of deleting food videos and shutting down the accounts that post videos related to large quantities of food.

The CCP government has also launched a “Clean Plate Campaign 2.0”, a refurbished version of the previous campaign of 2013, to avoid wastage of food. The 1.0 version was launched to cover up the allegations of lavish spendings and squandering in parties and get together events by CCP officials.

The criticality of the issue can be gauged by the fact that Xi Jinping had to come out in public and urge Chinese citizens to stop food wasting. In a statement published over Xinhua, he also threatened to punish the Chinese citizens involved in the breach of anti-food wastage guidelines.

However, giving a setback to the anti-food wastage campaign, ‘big eating shows’ and the popularity of ‘big eaters’ have gained impressive popularity in China. In the past few days, shows related to big eating have been major hits and millions of hashtags related to such content have been generated in the Chinese social media.

Though the CCP Government is citing a couple of general figures on food wastages to justify its campaigns and content censoring. It said that in 2015, the catering industry of China constituted 11.7% of the total meal available in China. In the same year, the urban catering industry of the country wasted 17 to 18 million tons of food – an amount sufficient to feed around 30 to 50 million people for a year.

However, the logic seems implausible and a deeper look into China’s domestic food production reflects that the actual reason behind such a rigorous campaign is domestic woes leading to the food shortage in China.