Govt asks public to store more daily necessities, but there is no need to misread this message
Published: Nov 02, 2021 05:58 PM
Taiwan Photo: Unsplash

Taiwan Photo: Unsplash

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) issued a statement late on Monday urging local authorities to do a good job to ensure supply and stable prices of daily necessities such as vegetables for the incoming winter and spring. It also encouraged families to store certain amount of daily necessities as needed to meet the demand of daily life and emergencies.

This sentence was captured by some online media accounts who associated it with the current tense situation across the Taiwan Straits, suggesting the public to think that the MOFCOM is preparing for the imminent outbreak of a war across the Taiwan Straits. They further implied that the Chinese mainland is sending a signal of possible sudden changes in the situation across the Taiwan Straits. 

I have to say that public opinion has been overly interpreted and amplified at a sensitive time. Even though the situation across the Taiwan straits is intense, I do not see the urgency of a situation on the verge of being triggered at the nearest moment. What I see is that the mainland's severe warnings and strengthened preparations for military conflict have produced a significant degree of strategic deterrence.

The island of Taiwan and the US have colluded to engage in many petty actions recently, with political stunts around the red line set by the mainland. For example, the US cannot station troops in the island, it then disclosed the information of a small number of US military personnel in the island for training. American military plane cannot land on the island, then it used military cargo to bring in US senators and deliver packages. 

On the one hand, they are deterred by the Chinese mainland and dare not engage in big movements. On the other hand, they worry that the Chinese mainland may launch a military operation in a few years to achieve the reunification. They do not want to acknowledge the fact that the mainland is in domination step by step, and they want to continue to pump up the morale of the island and to delay the final change.

It can be said that the strategic initiative on the Taiwan question is firmly in the hands of the mainland. I do not believe that the country wants to send a signal to the public at this time through a notice from the MOFCOM that people need to "hurry up and prepare for war." In my opinion, it is the intention of MOFCOM to strengthen the regular capacity to withstand and cushion seasonal and disaster-caused supply constraints. 

In the past two years, the frequency of natural disasters and the recurrence of COVID-19 has increased significantly. China relies on the government and society to provide the main strength to deal with these issues, and the family is relatively weak as a defense unit. In some developed societies, many families have a strong sense of disaster prevention. Larger families usually equip themselves with small generators and store a certain amount of daily necessities. People who live in tall buildings also have escape ropes to protect themselves from fire. In the long run, it is also necessary for Chinese families to strengthen their ability to protect themselves. 

The current situation is full of specific challenges. However, if we take a look at the overall situation, we can see that it is highly ordered and controllable. The constant outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic has brought inconvenience to work and life and some losses, but do we expect this wave of COVID-19 to be completely out of control, or will zero-COVID case be achieved again? Most people clearly believe the latter.

The MOFCOM reminded local authorities to stabilize prices and encouraged families to store a certain amount of daily necessities as needed, but this does not mean those necessities are in short supply. As I understand, there are plenty of supplies across the country. Vegetable prices also show signs of decline. In Northern China, there is a tradition of storing up cabbage and radishes before the winter. Families who have the condition can buy more and store some, and the government is encouraging such a household stock habit.

Public opinion is always very sensitive. This is normal. However, everyone must have basic judgments and avoid being easily led astray. The cross-Straits situation has seen unprecedented tension. If the DPP authority insists on going their own way, the war is the Sword of Damocles hanging over their heads.

At the same time, we must see that there are still many measures to punish the Taiwan authority. For example, fighter jets can fly over Taiwan. The mainland can announce its jurisdiction over the airspace above and around the Taiwan island, and so on. Think about the situation in Hong Kong two years ago. 

Many people also eagerly hoped that the People's Liberation Army be deployed to intervene, believing that it was the only option. But the situation in Hong Kong saw a fundamental breakthrough with the enactment of the National Security Law. If the mainland wants to do away with the DPP authority, the means of war constitutes a powerful deterrent. Preparations surrounding it have been seen in full swing. But there are other powerful means that could be adopted by the mainland too. There is no need to rush.

It is the DPP authority who is in panic all day long. They are pretending to be calm. They know that they have entered a dead end. The highly intense confrontation with the mainland is unsustainable, and their future is dim. The mainland public should not be muddled by the bluffing performances made by Taiwan and the US.

We only need to steadily strengthen preparations for a military fight, while maintaining the normal rhythm and prosperity of economic and social life. Whether the eventual reunification is achieved via an overwhelming military fight or a peaceful end to the separation due to the desperation of the DPP authority, it will just be a historical destiny.

The author is editor-in-chief of the Global Times. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn