Stores in China’s Xining, the capital of Qinghai province, have been accused of price gouging while the city was in a pandemic lockdown.

According to images archived by China Digital Times, an unknown business had upped prices for cabbage to around $6 (over 49 yuan). Beijing News reported on October 27 that local officials have intervened and ordered the supermarket to adjust the price accordingly. The original price for the cabbage was roughly $1.24, and the store had to return the overcharged amount.

The authorities have also looked at the case of a vegetable package that cost $8 through a group buying channel—another possible price gouging incident. Officials promised a violation would be punished accordingly.

Xining entered a snap lockdown on October 21 after three people tested positive for COVID. Complaints of food shortages from locals have emerged online since. In this video, a resident recalled the Shanghai lockdown.

The resident added that they were only allowed out for food every three days, and stores tended to be very crowded. 

Responding to critics, a senior official explained that the food shortfall was due to disruptions at a critical agricultural product distribution site.

As state-run People’s Daily reports, Chen Xiaoping, director of Xining’s Commerce Bureau, said food shortages emerged after more stores were closed to prevent COVID transmission.

Besides the food issue, unverified images of residential and unit doors in Xining wired shut have also circulated.

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