The Chinese government has asked families to stock up daily necessities in case of emergencies and directed authorities to maintain adequate food supplies, sparking online speculation on the possible reasons behind the directive.

The unusual notice published by China’s commerce ministry comes in the backdrop of heavy rains in October that caused widespread flooding and damage to crops including in the province of Shandong, China’s biggest vegetable growing area.

The commerce ministry directive made no mention of an ongoing food shortage or of whether the instructions were motivated by fears that anti-Covid measures could disrupt supply chains or leave locked-down citizens in need of food.

Adding to concerns of food supply shortages and increase in prices is the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak, which has led to some lockdowns and intra-provincial travel restrictions across 14 provinces including in the capital, Beijing.

The  Economic Daily, a Communist Party China  backed newspaper, told netizens not to have “too much of an overactive imagination” and that the directive’s purpose was to make sure citizens were not caught off guard if there was a lockdown in their area.

The commerce ministry directed the authorities to track the supply, demand and price changes of daily necessities including vegetables and meat, and issue early warnings if necessary.

It is increasingly adopting tough measures even to contain a handful of cases  though infections have been detected in several provinces like in the latest outbreak, especially ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics beginning on February 4, 2022.

Besides the pandemic disrupting the supply chain, China has been hit hard by unusually heavy rains and flooding in the last two years especially in the central and eastern provinces.

According  to the report, The state planning body has called for the timely replanting of vegetables, urging local governments to support fast-growing produce.

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