April 21, 2024

Panic Buying Grips China’s Capital As Residents Fear Another Shanghai-Esque Lockdown – Insider


  • Residents in Beijing are clearing supermarket shelves in panic, amid fears of an imminent lockdown.
  • Some are worried they may face a food crisis like in Shanghai, which has been locked down for weeks.
  • On Tuesday, nearly all of Beijing’s 21 million residents were ordered to undergo mass Covid tests.

Residents in the Chinese capital of Beijing are clearing supermarket shelves of groceries amid fears that they may soon face Shanghai-style food shortages caused by a possible imminent lockdown. 

The panic began on Monday after 3.5 million residents in Beijing’s central Chaoyang district were ordered to undergo three rounds of Covid tests this week amid a spike in local cases, according to The Guardian.

On Tuesday, mass Covid testing requirements were extended to cover nearly all of the city’s 21 million residents, stoking fears of a city-wide lockdown, per AFP. 

Pictures of people joining long queues at supermarkets and hoarding food supplies have been circulating in the news, in scenes reminiscent of the early days of the pandemic.

“People are anxious. Everyone is snapping up goods, and we’re worried that items might run out,” a supermarket customer surnamed Wang told AFP.

Noting that her family has secured enough food to last a week, the 48-year-old added that she was worried “things will become like in Shanghai.”

Shanghai, a financial hub home to 26 million residents, has been in a harsh and indefinite lockdown since late March. Unable to leave their homes to buy groceries, hungry residents have complained about running out of food. 

On Monday, Beijing recorded 32 symptomatic cases and one asymptomatic case — low compared to Shanghai’s 1,661 symptomatic cases and 15,319 asymptomatic cases. But officials in the capital say they’re hoping to avoid the outbreak getting out of hand, according to AFP. 

Chinese health officials have stood by what they’re calling a “dynamic” “zero-Covid” policy, which has included rapid lockdowns, mass testing, and travel restrictions whenever clusters emerge.

Across the capital, some gyms, tourist sites, and theaters were ordered to close on Tuesday, per Reuters.

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Beijing residents clear out supermarket shelves amid fears that the capital city will soon face Shanghai-style food shortages in a lockdown


Customers wearing face masks shop next to near-empty shelves at a supermarket following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Chaoyang district of Beijing, China April 24, 2022. (REUTERS/Stella Qiu)

Panic buying and hoarding has gripped China’s capital city as fears of a hard lockdown looms, multiple sources reported.

Empty shelves increasingly plague grocery stores and markets across Beijing as over 20 million residents rush to stock up on food and daily necessities, with growing concerns the capital will soon face the same fate as Shanghai, Insider reported.

The Chinese government began mass testing residents within Beijing’s diplomatic district, Chaoyang, on Monday, according to CNN, where a majority of coronavirus cases have surfaced. The government then announced its intention to test nearly all of Beijing’s inhabitants on Tuesday, according to Forbes, forcing anxious residents to stand in long lines at both grocery stores and testing stations.

Thus far, only 100 Omicron cases have been detected, NBC News reported.

While Chinese state-run media outlet Global Times acknowledged pork prices had risen in Beijing and that “temporary shortages of supplies” affected certain markets, its report ultimately expressed confidence supplies would meet the increased demand. 

Customers wearing face masks shop next to near-empty shelves at a supermarket following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Chaoyang district of Beijing, China April 24, 2022. (REUTERS/Stella Qiu)

Panic-buying has been a recurring problem in China since at least November, Reuters reported, when the Ministry of Commerce issued an unprecedented bulletin encouraging citizens to stockpile basic goods, which reportedly sparked long lines, hoarding and empty shelves in many areas.

While the Beijing municipal government has not announced it intends to implement a hard lockdown, according to Reuters, tension runs high in the capital in light of how Shanghai’s lockdown has unfolded.

In mid-March Shanghai told residents there was no foreseeable lockdown, however, on April 5 the municipal government reversed course and imposed a city wide lockdown in accordance with Xi Jinping’s signature zero-COVID policy, sending China’s financial hub spiraling into widespread food shortages, protests, looting and casual brutality.

Shanghai has now confirmed over 500,000 COVID-19 cases with conditions reportedly so dire that residents have even begun to risk retribution by taking to social media to rage against their ill-treatment, openly confessing their loss of faith in government.

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