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China’s Pork Prices Soar in the Shadow of the Trade War

Since April, Chinese pork prices have risen almost every day. In the past few months they reached a new peak. According to the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture last Friday (August 23), the wholesale price of pork had increased by 26 percent from the previous month, to 30.79 yuan (US$4.3) per kilogram.

Chinese officials say the rise in the price of pork is due mainly to African swine fever. However, this round of price increases is inseparable from the ever intensifying US-China trade war. From February to May of this year, Chinese buyers cancelled a total of 4,513 tons of U.S. pork orders. It was not until the beginning of this month that the purchase of 10,200 tons of U.S. pork resumed. At present, China imposes a 62 percent tariff on U.S. pork.

The government is taking measures to curb the rise in the price of pork. 29 provinces have introduced various forms of pork subsidies. Some people question whether China has returned to the era of economic shortage that existed under Mao.

Some people expressed their willingness to share the same pain that the country is suffering. “The restrictions on the purchase of pork are good. There is little the people can do when the country is in a disaster. It is not impossible to live while eating less pork,” said a Sina Weibo user. “I believe there are 1.4 billion people who are willing to suffer with the country.”

Not every Chinese agrees. One netizen said, “For the people to live and work well is the greatest counter-measure (in the trade war). Whether the economy has problems or not, there is only one standard: whether the people are poorer or richer, not whether the government is poorer or richer.” Some people even said, “Counter measures? The people are just cannon fodder.”

China is the world’s largest consumer of pork. The Chinese eat an average of 700 million pigs a year.

Source: Voice of America, August 27, 2019