Back in late 1950s, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) rolled out community-owned cafeterias, providing free food to the populace at a massive scale. This quickly depleted the country’s food stock and led to hunger and famine. It seems that now the CCP is bringing this infamous practice back.
A recent article in China Digital Times criticized a CCP pilot program for state-owned cafeterias, discussing the cafeteria that recently opened in the Yanshi Community of Shijiazhuang city, Hebei Province. Since the start of the cafeteria’s trial operation in early October this year, the cafeteria has served more than 20,000 customers. It targets thousands of residents in the Yanshi community and surrounding areas, aiming to ensure that customers can “eat to a full stomach with 5 yuan (US$ 0.70) and eat well with 9 yuan (US$ 1.25).” Given current market conditions, it is impossible to sustain those prices without continual subsidies from the government.
The article’s author criticized state-owned cafeterias as follows: The government is using tax revenue collected from the populace at large to subsidize food for specific groups of people (i.e. people living in certain communities) — it is not fair to those who are not served. Meanwhile, if the government builds cafeterias to serve the whole populace then it is just taking people’s money (as tax) and giving it back (as subsidy to cafeteria), adding on top the inefficiency (financial waste) resulting from bureaucratic operations.
Source: China Digital Times, November 7, 2023