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China: "Love Your Country, Buy Cabbage."

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A couple of years ago, PRI ran a story about a county in China that ordered workers to smoke. Residents could see their wages cut if they failed to smoke enough per month, and inhaling the wrong sort of cigarette resulted in fines.

County officials felt that revenue from locally-made cigarettes had fallen too far, and decided to fix that with a mandate. Office and factory workers in the region were required to consume and pay for a certain amount of cigarettes at the risk of having their budget slashed. School employees were also encouraged to smoke as much as possible, although their cigarette quota was lower than businesses.

Recently, in what might be (very) loosely interpreted as a step forward, the Chinese government launched a campaign to get people to buy cabbage as the price of the vegetable -- known as bok choy -- has dropped 40% since October.

This time, instead of a mandate China’s trying a guilt trip. The new, pro-cabbage slogan is: “Love Your Country, Buy Cabbage.” Potato sales have also been sluggish so a “Love Your Country, Buy Potatoes” campaign has been introduced as well.

According to the Want China Times, the Chinese government has sent notices to provincial leaders, asking for their help with the campaign. One official was quoted as saying that the ministry would “try to ensure the transaction volume of the vegetables at eighteen large wholesale markets in northern China surpasses 19 million kilograms in the latter half of November.”

Viewed in a certain light, falling cabbage and potato prices are a sign of prosperity for modern China. A recent article in China Daily reports that decline in demand for cabbage comes as a result of the increased availability of other foods. (Much of China’s cabbage production now goes to South Korea.)

As much as Beijing would like the citizenry to express its affection for cabbage, since Chinese farmers don't have any form of crop insurance available to them, it's safe to say produce isn't exactly loving them back.
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