People meet at a restaurant in the "Dove Lane" in the old town Tuancheng of Hotan City, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, May 27, 2020. (Xinhua/Sadat)
BEIJING, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) -- President Xi Jinping's recent call for ending food wasting and promoting thrift continues to resonate in the country, as the national tradition of frugality has gained a fresh perspective amid new circumstances.
Calling the issue of food wasting shocking and distressing, Xi highlighted the need to maintain a sense of crisis despite the fact that China has continuously achieved bumper harvests.
It's not the first time that he has called for decisive action to address the issue of "wasting at the tip of the tongue," a catchphrase used to describe dinner table extravagance. The damage incurred by such overindulgence cannot be underestimated.
Back in January 2013, Xi, who was two months into the new role as the general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, commented on a Xinhua report about netizens urging the elimination of wasting at the dinner table.
"It is hurtful to see such severe problems when we all know that many people in our country are still plagued by poverty," he said. "We must do something to stop such waste as quickly as possible!"
In his harshly-worded comments, Xi said strict implementation of diligence and frugality must become the common practice of the entire society. In addition, he said all officials and the public have responded strongly to various sources of wasted food, particularly recreational activities using public funds.
A folk artisan delivers food with a traditional long plate on his head at a large open-air banquet at the Zhongshan ancient town in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality Jan. 18, 2020. (Xinhua/Liu Chan)
His instruction came amid a nationwide campaign following an eight-point decision on improving Party and government conduct, which stipulates thriftiness and cracks down on misconducts such as using public funds for hosting banquets and traveling.
Such grand banquets are known to feature binge of top-brand baijiu (white alcohol, a type of liquor) and excessive extravagant delicacies. Stopping such food waste with an iron-fist approach contributed to comprehensive and strict governance over the Party.
By the end of March 2019, China had investigated and dealt with 280,000 cases of violations of the Party's frugality disciplines since 2012, according to the top anti-graft body of the CPC.
Food wasting during lavish dinings at government's expense, a source of public ire, has been effectively curbed. Meanwhile, as Xi has always advocated, the tradition of deeming frugality as honor and wasting a disgrace is further carried forward.
President Xi's comments from 2013 and his latest call for ceasing wasting of food contained some keywords of the unusual year of 2020 for China: poverty alleviation, Party building, self-sufficiency, and COVID-19.
By the end of 2013, over 82 million rural people were living below the poverty line of 2,300 yuan per year (about 331 U.S. dollars). This year, China is determined to put a historic end to absolute poverty.
2020 marks the 99th founding anniversary of the CPC, which led the whole nation in curbing COVID-19, and entering the homestretch of finishing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects -- a goal to be achieved under a new development pattern that puts more emphasis on self-sufficiency, among others.
A farmer uses a shovel to separate grains of wheat from the husk in Zhangyao Village of Erlang Town in Xiping County, central China's Henan Province on May 26, 2020. (Xinhua/Li Jianan)
All the significant events are related to what happens at the "tip of the tongue." Stopping food wasting is not just about a healthy social conduct, it is of immense significance to China's stride toward a modern socialist country.
China's summer grain output reached a historic high of 142.81 million tonnes this year, which has laid a solid foundation for this year's stable grain production, as well as for achieving China's goals of completing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects and winning the battle against poverty as scheduled.
While the optimism is well deserved, Xi's latest instruction offered the much-needed sober warning.
Almost 690 million people went hungry in 2019 worldwide, up 10 million from 2018, according to the United Nations, which warned that many more people could slip into hunger this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Even if our life gets better day by day, there will be no such right granted to waste!" Xi once said. ■