China Hates Waste?

It’s never a bad thing when the world’s most populous country turns its gaze to food waste. And China is doing just that, thanks to Xi Jinping, the new Communist Party chief and the presumed next President.

Xi prompted this newfound attention with a few words in response to an article on China’s rampant food waste. As summarized nicely in The Atlantic, these were Xi’s words: “These habits of waste must be stopped immediately!” 

The results went viral, Sino-style. TV News covered Xi’s comments, which led to the Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily running a front-page piece on food waste. The mainstream media then did the same. For example, there was the amazingly-titled “Opposing Waste Is a Profound and Far-Reaching Social Reform,” which I’m now considering as a tattoo (because it’s so catchy).

This has led to some interesting places: Web sites decrying the traditional, lavish Chinese banquet as wasteful, especially when they are taxpayer funded, and then food waste as an abuse of public funds. It has even morphed into a discussion of power and corruption that has prompted a real drop in the sale of luxury items, at least according to the Ministry of Commerce.

Overall, it has been a heady few weeks. And it will be exciting to see whether the anti-waste wave has crested and where it goes next.

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