Why China Can’t Stop Talking About Canned Peaches

Why China can’t stop talking about canned peaches on the internet right now.

  • Chinese state media is warning people not to eat canned peaches as a COVID remedy.
  • An unfounded belief that the snack can fight the coronavirus has seen sales of canned peaches surge, per SCMP.
  • As the COVID-vulnerable country reopens, the stakes are high for China to dole out medically sound advice.

As a newly reopened China scrambles to calm a medicine-buying frenzy, the country has found itself trying to curb the hoarding of another good: canned peaches.

Chinese shoppers, incorrectly believing that peaches can help treat the coronavirus, are buying up so much of the canned fruit that online sales platforms have run out of stock, The South China Morning Post reported on Tuesday.

State media is rushing to draw the line between comfort food and medical treatment.

“Canned yellow peaches are not really a special medicine for fever and cough. It is more like a sweet ‘placebo’ like the cake you eat or the milk tea you drink when you are stressed,” Gao Xiaoling, a hospital deputy director in Shaanxi, told People’s Daily, the Chinese Communist Party’s main publication.

“The conclusion that ‘canned yellow peaches can cure diseases,’ drawn from good childhood memories, has no practical value in curing diseases,” Beijing Youth Daily, a paper run by the Communist Youth League of China, wrote on Monday. “It can only be regarded as a kind of joke or poetic expression.”

Beijing Youth Daily also chided readers about the rising online search interest in canned peaches. “Eating in moderation can make you happy and be good for your body, but it is not recommended to stock up on canned food blindly,” it wrote.

The peach-purchasing spree echoes the vitamin C craze of 2020, when orange juice sales skyrocketed in the US amid beliefs that vitamins would cure COVID-19 — despite the fact that there was then and continues to be no conclusive evidence to support such claims.

Chinese trust in canned peaches goes beyond COVID. In some regions, particularly in northern China, the sweet treat is considered to be a folk remedy that can fight colds. Party-run newspaper China Daily wrote that canned peaches are sometimes called “healing magic medicine for children,” and that some people are convinced they help with recovery from surgery.


High stakes as China opens back up
With China charging ahead with its reopening, the stakes are high for China’s push to dole out medically sound advice. The country risks between 1.3 and 2.1 million lives by lifting its zero-COVID policy because of its low vaccination rates and a lack of hybrid immunity, London-based research firm wrote in November.

Only 69% of Chinese aged 60 and above, and 40% of over-80-year-olds, have received booster shots, per Bloomberg. In comparison, 71% of Americans above 65 have received their first booster, while 44% have received a second, The New York Times reported.

At least one hospital in downtown Beijing is calling doctors and nurses in from sick leave and vacation to cope with a sudden burst of COVID-19 cases. And on Thursday, President Xi Jinping’s administration issued a “full mobilization” mandate to quickly expand medical facilities in anticipation of a wave of infections.



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