CHINA's government accidentally sparked a "doomsday prepper" frenzy after advice to stockpile essentials led to fears of imminent war.
Panicking shoppers across the country rushed out to buy food, water and survival gear as rumours spread of all-out conflict with Taiwan that might drag in the US and its allies.
The panic was sparked – apparently by accident – by a Ministry of Commerce notice suggesting families stock up on food in case of emergencies.
It immediately sparked speculation the government was expecting shortages over winter.
Some believed it meant an invasion of Taiwan was imminent following increasingly extreme threats from Beijing aimed at the US.
Others are said to have feared they were about to be plunged into a severe lockdown to stop a Covid outbreak.
Empty shelves and long queues were seen in supermarkets across China as the online rumours fuelled panic buying of groceries.
Shoppers were seen jostling for the last bags of rice and flour after some selfish preppers bought more than half a ton each, claimed the local Jimu News.
Torches, noodles, cooking oil and hardtack – long-lasting biscuits favoured by survivalists – were also being stockpiled.
One supermarket manager in Changzhou City said a huge crowd rushed through the doors yesterday morning.
They stripped shelves bare, and the queue for the checkout took up to two hours.
There was also chaos in Qidong City, where shops sold out of rice and some people reported being robbed for their groceries on the way home.
Communist party officials were forced to appeal for calm and assured citizens there were no shortages or supply problems.
The government-owned Economic Daily newspaper warned readers not to let their imagination run wild with fears of an invasion.
It explaining the ministry advice was meant for people who might find themselves suddenly locked down under Covid measures.
Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of Global Times newspaper – a mouthpiece for the Communist party – blamed social media users for sowing panic.
He said: “I do not believe that the country wants to send a signal to the public at this time through a notice from the Commerce Ministry that people need to ‘hurry up and prepare for war'."
The panic highlights growing tensions in recent months over Taiwan, which have been heavily covered in Chinese media.
The two-million strong People's Liberation Army regularly stage invasion drills, and Chinese jets make incursions into Taiwan air space.
Last month the Global Times said war "could be triggered at any time" in a blistering tirade against Taiwan's allies in the West.
Taiwan's foreign minister warned China would soon be ready for a "full-scale invasion".
And last week Taiwan's president acknowledged for the first time that US troops on are the ground helping prepare defences.
It sparked fury in Beijing and fresh warnings of "punishment from the mainland".
Analysts have long warned that tensions in the region could drag the US and other nations into World War Three.
We pay for your stories!
Do you have a story for The Sun news desk?
Email us at [email protected] or call 0207 782 4104. You can WhatsApp us on 07423 720 250. We pay for videos too.
Click here to upload yours.
Click here to get The Sun newspaper delivered for FREE for the next six weeks.
Source: Read Full Article