China Is Cutting Back on Lavish Official Banquets … and the Global Economy Is Feeling the Impact

The World
How It Works
Jan. 9 2014 10:26 AM

When the Banquet Ends               

168370837
Chinese people who don't eat all their meals at lavish banquets must resort to grocery shopping.

Photo by AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Back in November I wrote about the current Chinese government’s efforts to reign in the country’s lavish official banquet culture, which cost the state about $48 billion per year and contributed heavily to national food waste of about $32 billion. In the wake of President Xi Jinping’s “clean your plate” campaign, catering companies and restaurants in Shanghai and Beijing saw their business drop by as much as 35 percent. Shark’s fin soup, a controversial delicacy that was once a staple at these events, has also been banned.

Joshua Keating Joshua Keating

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

And as Simon Rabinovitch of the Financial Times reports today, the impact of this austerity drive is being felt in prices in the run-up to Chinese New Year at the end of this month:

The consumer price index fell to 2.5 per cent, from 3.0 per cent in November. It was a seven-month low, bucking the usual pattern of higher year-end inflation.
Food prices, the primary cause of the slowdown, rose 4.1 per cent year on year in December, down from 5.9 per cent in November. Stripped of food prices, inflation edged up to 1.7 per cent year on year from 1.6 per cent in November.
Advertisement

Overall, food prices went through their second annual decline last year, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. The exceptions are milk and beef prices, which again are largely driven by Chinese demand. China’s demand for imported milk powder—amid fears about contamination in the domestic supply—and growing taste for beef are pushing up global prices for both.

It might be time for a variation on one of the financial world’s favorite clichés: When China skips lunch, the world gets hungry? 

TODAY IN SLATE

Justice Ginsburg’s Crucial Dissent in the Texas Voter ID Case

The Jarring Experience of Watching White Americans Speak Frankly About Race

How Facebook’s New Feature Could Come in Handy During a Disaster

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

View From Chicago

You Should Be Able to Sell Your Kidney

Or at least trade it for something.

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Terrorism, Immigration, and Ebola Are Combining Into a Supercluster of Anxiety

The Legal Loophole That Allows Microsoft to Seize Assets and Shut Down Companies

  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Oct. 19 2014 1:05 PM Dawn Patrol Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s critically important 5 a.m. wake-up call on voting rights.
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 19 2014 11:40 AM Pot-Infused Halloween Candy Is a Worry in Colorado
  Life
Outward
Oct. 17 2014 5:26 PM Judge Begrudgingly Strikes Down Wyoming’s Gay Marriage Ban
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 17 2014 4:23 PM A Former FBI Agent On Why It’s So Hard to Prosecute Gamergate Trolls
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Oct. 17 2014 1:33 PM What Happened at Slate This Week?  Senior editor David Haglund shares what intrigued him at the magazine. 
  Arts
Behold
Oct. 19 2014 4:33 PM Building Family Relationships in and out of Juvenile Detention Centers
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 17 2014 6:05 PM There Is No Better Use For Drones Than Star Wars Reenactments
  Health & Science
Space: The Next Generation
Oct. 19 2014 11:45 PM An All-Female Mission to Mars As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 16 2014 2:03 PM Oh What a Relief It Is How the rise of the bullpen has changed baseball.