Skip to content

Next China: Hungry in Shanghai

A security guard helps transport deliveries of food from a courier to Shanghai residents under lockdown.

A security guard helps transport deliveries of food from a courier to Shanghai residents under lockdown.

Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

It’s a sign of the times when even the rich have trouble buying food.

In this case, Kathy Xu — a venture capitalist whose $2.5 billion firm has invested in a range of grocery businesses including Meituan and DingDong Maicai — resorted to joining a neighborhood food-buying group on WeChat to feed her family. Xu became an inadvertent poster child for Shanghai residents struggling to find food during a weeks-long lockdown that has led to protests and severely tested the Chinese government's Covid Zero strategy

Rich or poor, group buying — in which a residential compound coordinates bulk purchases and distribution — has become a lifeline for Shanghai's 25 million residents. Bartering has also started to take hold.