Photo shows Wujiang Fuling Zhacai sold in a supermarket in Shanghai. Photo: VCG

A Chinese mainland company has sent a box of zhacai, or pickled vegetables, to the headquarters of a Taiwanese talk show program after a Taiwan economist made an appearance on an episode to mock the idea that mainland residents cannot afford zhacai

Zhaicai is one of the most commonly eaten foods that mainlanders eat together with rice, porridge or instant noodles. A bag of zhacai weigh about 80 grams usually costs three yuan ($0.4), while per capita disposable income of Chinese mainland residents is 28,228 yuan.

Huang Shicong, an economist in Taiwan said on a talk show program “Crucial Moment” on August 7, that “people in the mainland always eat zhacai together with instant noodles, but now they can’t afford it.”

Huang said the decline in the share price of Fuling Zhacai, a famous Chinese zhacai maker in Fuling, Southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality, showed that mainland people were too poor to eat zhacai. He wrongly pronounced Fuling as Peiling. 

Mainlanders could not afford zhacai sounds like a gimmick, but this notion reflects that many Taiwanese are ignorant about the overwhelming development of Chinese mainland during the past tens of years, instead they blindly cling to their own prejudices, an employee of the Fuling Zhacai company who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Wednesday.

“We sell more than one million tons of zhaicai, or billions of bags of zhaicai, every year,” the employee said.

The revenue of Chongqing Fuling Zhacai Group in 2018 is more than 1.9 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of about 26 percent, according to the company’s annual reports.  

Fuling Zhacai announced on Sina Weibo on Sunday that they had delivered a box of zhacai to the program, saying that “we are not only able to afford zhacai, but also to treat you all in the program with zhacai.”

“Thanks for your efforts to promote zhacai and Chinese language culture,” the company also said on its Weibo account.

The zhacai joke is not the first case that Taiwan programs use food to mock the mainland people.

On August 11 some Taiwan analysts said in another program that the price increase of Wuliangye, a well-known Chinese liquor, indicates that Chinese mainland residents are drowning their sorrows amid economic downturn. 

In 2011, Gao Zhibin, a scholar in Taiwan, said that tea-boiled eggs, at about 2.5 yuan a pop, are luxury food and most mainland people could not afford them. 

Huang’s speech made a big splash on Chinese mainland social media. The trending topic of “Taiwan program claims mainland people cannot afford zhacai” has been viewed 980 million times as of press time.

Netizens rushed to post photos of themselves being surrounded by bags of zhaicai they bought while asking “am I rich enough?”