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(Bloomberg) -- Sign up for Next China, a weekly email on where the nation stands now and where it''''''''s going next.Among the logjammed traffic trying to enter Beijing last week on a highway from the south were dozens of trucks carrying food to the capital, stuck in line as health officials stopped each vehicle to screen the occupants for signs of coronavirus.In the city, supermarkets were emptying fast as panicked shoppers rushed to stock up on provisions. Days earlier, the government had closed Hubei province, the epicenter of the new virus and a nexus of transportation in the center of China.Keeping the nation’s 1.4 billion people fed is one of the ruling Communist Party’s vital challenges, a task that was tough enough even before the virus, due to an outbreak of swine fever and the effects of decades of pollution and urban expansion. Within days of the panic buying, authorities had opened special thoroughfares for essential food and medical items called “Green Passages.”.“Any food price spike could lead to social unrest, and that’s why the government gives this top priority,” said Ma Wenfeng, senior analyst with Beijing Orient Agri-business Consultant Ltd. “Food is more important, even than masks.”

(彭博社)——注册了“下一个中国”,每周发一封电子邮件,来说明中国目前的状况和下一步的走向。上周,试图从南方进入北京的高速公路上拥堵不堪,其中有数十辆卡车将食品运往首都。卫生官员拦下每辆车,检查车上人员是否有得冠状病毒的迹象。在这座城市,超市里的顾客们纷纷涌向超市,抢购粮食。几天前,政府关闭了湖北省,这是新病毒的中心和中国中部的交通枢纽。为全国14亿人口提供食物是执政的共产党面临的重大挑战之一,因为猪瘟的爆发,以及数十年污染和城市扩张的影响,这项任务甚至在猪瘟爆发之前就已经够艰巨的了。在恐慌性抢购发生后的几天内,当局就开通了专门的通道,提供基本的食品和医疗用品,称为“绿色通道”,北京东方农业咨询有限公司高级分析师马文峰说: “任何食品价格上涨都可能导致社会动荡,这就是为什么政府要把这个问题放在首位。食品甚至比面子更重要。”

Other products present a bigger challenge. China relies on imports for some foods, especially soybeans and edible oils. It has also boosted imports of pork, one of the nation’s favorite meats, after African swine fever forced the country to cull millions of domestic hogs.China’s commerce ministry said the country will boost imports of meat and other products to meet any deficit, while state-owned food companies Cofco and Sinograin have been ordered to resume production to boost supplies, state media Xinhua reported.The Asian nation agreed to buy $40 billion to $50 billion a year of U.S. farm products for the next two years, mostly soybeans and meat, as part of the phase-one trade deal signed last month.Still, the coronavirus may temper the nation’s demand for some products. People are eating out less, shunning restaurants along with other public places. Dining venues and food stalls are among the biggest users of pork and other meats as well as products like palm oil.


About 5 kilometers from the supermarket is a street of eateries with a small noodle restaurant. The lights are off and a sign on the door says “closed.” Owner Ji Jingping is waiting for the government to tell her when she can open again, though that might not make much difference.‘Nobody Dares’“Even if you open, nobody dares to eat outside,” Ji said. “There are many restaurants like us. All the restaurants along the street are closed.” Ji is still paying her 20 employees and 50,000 yuan in monthly rent and says it may be even harder for big restaurants with many workers and expensive rents.The Lunar New Year holiday has ended, but the streets in Beijing remain mostly deserted. Restaurants, public parks and cinemas are closed. Visitors to supermarkets and citizens going home to their communities now typically need to get their temperatures tested before entering.To prevent the spread of the virus, most Chinese provinces banned festival celebrations, parties and dining at restaurants during the biggest holiday of the year. More than a dozen cities and provinces extended the Lunar New Year break by a week as part of these efforts.“Restaurants are among the businesses that have been hardest hit during the holidays,” said Li Qiang, chief analyst with Shanghai JC Intelligence Co., a private agriculture consulting firm in Shanghai.Restaurants and retail businesses may have suffered losses of about 500 billion yuan ($71.7 billion) in just seven days during the holidays, according to a report by Ren Zeping, chief economist of China Evergrande Group, a Shenzhen-based developer. That’s about 10% of last year’s total catering revenue of 4.7 trillion yuan.Ren expects the country’s economic growth to slow to 5% this year due to the drop in demand and production, the impact on investment, higher short-term unemployment and rising prices.

离超市大约5公里的地方有一条街道,里面有小面馆。灯都关了,门上写着“关门”,店主季景平正在等待政府告诉她什么时候可以重新开张,尽管这可能不会有太大的影响。但是没人敢开门,季说:“就算你开了门,也没人敢在外面吃饭,”。“有很多像我们这样的餐厅。沿街的所有餐馆都关门了。”纪女士仍然需要支付她的20名员工和5万元的月租金,她说对于那些有很多工人和有昂贵租金的大餐馆来说可能更加困难。农历新年假期已经结束,但北京的大部分街道仍然空无一人。食品市场、公园及电影院均已关闭。现在,前往超市的游客和回家的市民在进入社区之前通常需要进行体温测试。为了防止病毒的传播,中国大多数省份禁止在这个一年中最重要的节日(春节)期间举行庆祝活动、聚会和在餐馆用餐。作为这些防控努力的一部分,十多个省市将春节假期延长了一周。上海一家私营农业咨询公司 JC Intelligence co.的首席分析师李强表示:“餐饮业是假日期间受打击最严重的行业之一”。总部位于深圳的开发商中国恒大集团首席经济学家任泽平在一份报告中称,餐饮业和零售业可能在假期的短短7天内损失了5000亿元人民币(约合717亿美元)。 这大约是去年餐饮业总收入4.7万亿元的10% 。任泽平预计,由于需求和产量下降、投资受到影响、短期失业率上升和物价上涨,中国今年的经济增长率将放缓至5% 。