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The Legendary Lao Gan Ma: How Chili Sauce Billionaire Tao Huabi Became a ‘Chinese Dream’ Role Model

The story of Lao Gan Ma founder Tao Huabi.

Manya Koetse

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You might know the chili sauce Lao Gan Ma, a household name in China. But perhaps you’re less familiar with the story behind the sauce and its founder, which has inspired millions of people and has made ‘Old Godmother’ Tao Huabi a notable figure in Chinese contemporary culture today. For many, the successful businesswoman and ‘chili sauce queen’ is an embodiment of the ‘Chinese dream.’

 
This is the “WE…WEI…WHAT?” column by Manya Koetse, original publication in German by Goethe Institut China (forthcoming), visit Yi Magazin: WE…WEI…WHAT? Manya Koetse erklärt das chinesische Internet.
 

Lao Gan Ma t-shirts, Lao Gan Ma phone covers, Lao Gan Ma bracelets, and even Lao Gan Ma airpod cases – Lao Gan Ma is more fashionable than ever in China today.

The celebrated brand is one of the country’s most well-known chili sauce labels, and it pops up in Chinese media and online culture every single day; not just because of its tasty condiments and other food products, but also because of the company’s remarkable history and evolution.

Besides the popularity of Lao Gan Ma’s crispy chili oil, it is the story of founder Tao Huabi (陶华碧) that plays a crucial role in the brand’s contemporary success. It is her face you see on the recognizable packaging design that has become a household product and is now also famous in many countries outside of China.

The iconic Lao Gan Ma, image via www.szmtzc.com

The brand name ‘Lao Gan Ma’ (老干妈) literally means ‘Old Godmother’ and refers to Tao Huabi herself. She is the creator of the famous chili sauces who has, over time, become the embodiment of the ‘Chinese dream.’ By following her own path and relying on her business instinct, Tao rose from poverty and became one of China’s richest women.

In order to explain why Tao Huabi is such an iconic figure in China today, let’s look at this famous female entrepreneur by highlighting the different stages of her Lao Gan Ma journey.

 

1: The Young Tao Huabi: “If I Hadn’t Been Strong, I Would’ve Starved”


 

“There are many successful businesses entrepreneurs who have experienced hardships, but there are few whose starting point was as low as Tao’s.” These are the opening lines of a popular book about Tao Huabi, written by Zhang Nali (张丽娜), telling the story of her life.1

Tao Huabi was born in 1947 in a small village in Meitan County, Guizhou, one of China’s poorest provinces. She was the eighth daughter in her family (her parents had actually hoped to finally have a son), and her parents struggled to feed and clothe their children, let alone give them proper education. Tao was not taught how to read and write.

The biography about Tao Huabi describes how Tao spent her younger years chopping wood, cooking and farming. The title of the book is If I Hadn’t Been Strong, I Would’ve Starved (我不坚强,就没得饭吃), and it is telling of how Tao’s younger years were all about being hungry and finding ways to keep on going.

Tao Huabi’s biography, written by Zhang Nali. Image via Shanghuibs.

During the Great Chinese Famine (1959-1961), Tao dug for wild vegetables and tried various ways to eat plant roots, using whatever she had to try and make the little food they had taste better. This is how poverty and hunger drove the young Tao to make her very first chili sauce. The natural sauce, made from medicinal plants from the mountains and home-grown chili peppers, was loved by the entire family.

When Tao was 20 years old, she married her husband, who worked as an accountant with the local geological team. They had two sons together. But the happy life of the young family did not last long as just a few years into their marriage, Tao’s husband became seriously ill with liver disease.

Tao now found herself in an incredibly difficult situation; she was uneducated, illiterate, and had no official working experience. But she needed to provide income for her family as they had no money to cover her husband’s medical costs and pay for the food and education of their two sons. The 30-yuan monthly income of her husband was nowhere near enough to help the family.

The situation led Tao to head out of the countryside for the first time in her life to go to the city of Guangzhou to find a factory job as a migrant worker. She brought her own homemade chili sauce with her to the faraway city and used it to flavor her steamed buns when she couldn’t afford any other food. She also shared it with her co-workers, who found her chili sauce to be delicious.

Unfortunately, Tao’s efforts could not save her husband’s life. She soon became widowed and, heartbroken, had to return back to Guizhou to take care of her two young boys. Now that she had become the sole caregiver and provider of her family, she started selling rice curd and also set up a street stall selling vegetables at all hours of the day, often working until 4 in the morning.

Her passion for cooking kept following Tao wherever she went. One day, when Tao’s sons were already grown up, she visited a noodle shop after work and complained to the female shop owner that their cold noodles were not authentic enough. After Tao gave the lady her tips and tricks on how to improve the noodles using chili oil, she was offered a job at the noodle stall. The experience at the shop eventually gave Tao the idea to start her own business.

 

2: Inspirational Business Journey: “Selling the Flavor”


 

In 1989, when Tao was 42, she set up her own little “Economical Restaurant” (“实惠饭店”) in the Nanming District of Guiyang, Guizhou. Although she just served simple noodles, she mixed them with her own spicy hot sauce with soybeans. Tao was beloved in the neighborhood, where she became a ‘godmother’ to poor students whom she would always give discounts and some extra food.

With many local students and patrons visiting her little diner, the noodle shop business soon flourished, but not because of her noodles – it was the chili sauce that kept people coming back for more.

Tao Huabi came to understand the popularity of her condiments when customers came in to purchase the sauce by itself, without the noodles. One day, when her sauce had sold out, she found that customers would not even eat her noodles without the chili. When Tao learned that other noodle shops in the neighborhood were all doing good business by using her home-made sauce in their noodles, she finally realized the true potential of her product.

By the early 1990s, more truck drivers passed by Tao’s shop due to the construction of a new highway in the area. Tao took this as a chance to promote her condiments outside the realm of her own neighborhood and started giving out her sauces for free for the truckers to take home. This form of word-of-mouth marketing soon paid off when people from outside the city district came to visit Tao’s shop to buy her chili sauces and other condiments.

By late 1994, Tao had stopped selling noodles and had turned her little restaurant into a specialty store called ‘Tao’s Guiyang Nanming Food Shop’ (“贵阳南明陶氏风味食品店”), with the chili oil sauce being the number one product.

Two years later, at the age of 49, Tao took the plunge to rent a house in Guiyang, recruited forty workers, and set up her own sauce factory called ‘Old Godmother’: ‘Lao Gan Ma‘ (老干妈). Since the factory initially had no machines, the chili chopping was all done manually. Tao herself, wearing her apron, would also cut chilis at the factory tables together with her workers.

In 1997, the company was officially listed and open for business. Although Tao never had any formal education, she turned out to have a natural talent for managing her flourishing company. Tao’s two sons later also joined the Lao Gan Ma company.

Although the Lao Gan Ma brand became successful almost immediately after its launch, Tao Huabi still struggled for years as a handful of competitors launched fake Lao Gan Ma sauces with similar packaging, and nearly ruined her business. In 2001, when Tao Huabi was 54, the high court in Beijing finally ruled that other similar products could not use the “Lao Gan Ma” name nor imitate her packages. She received 400,000 RMB in compensation ($60,000).

Tao Huabi in her factory, image via Sohu.com.

Lao Gan Ma eventually employed over 2000 factory workers and became the largest producer and seller of chili products in China, reaching a point where the company produced 1.3 million bottles of chili sauce every day. Besides the iconic Fried Chili in Oil and Chili Crisp Sauce, Lao Gan Ma also produces Black Beans Chili Sauce, Tomato Chili Sauce, hot pot soup base, and other condiments.

By now, Tao’s ‘chili empire’ has gone international, as her condiments are sold from the USA to Africa. Tao Huabi once famously said that she does not know all the countries outside of China where Lao Gan Ma is sold, but that she does know that Lao Gan Ma is sold wherever there are Chinese people.

In 2019, Lao Gan Ma was selected as one of the top 100 brands in China, together with other famous national brands such as China Mobile, Huawei, Tik Tok, Tsingtao, and Alibaba.

Lao Gan Ma packaging, image via Taobao.

What is striking about the Lao Gan Ma business model is that it does not follow the usual marketing strategy tactics. The company rarely advertises, there are no celebrity endorsements, no social media accounts or campaigns, the website hasn’t been updated for years, and the Lao Gan Ma packaging has never modernized: it’s been the same old-fashioned logo for decades.

It is a marketing strategy that follows Tao’s no-nonsense line of thinking: if your product is good enough, people will buy it again. “We’re selling the flavor, not the packaging,” Tao herself once said.

 

3: The Old Godmother: “Labor Builds the Chinese Dream”


 

In the eyes of many, Tao Huabi is an embodiment of the ‘Chinese dream.’ A few years ago, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV produced a TV series titled “Labor Builds the Chinese Dream” (劳动铸就中国梦), and one of its episodes featured Tao Huabi, who is now 74 years old.

The main narrative of the documentary is that all people built on a country’s wealth together with each other as a collective goal – not an individual one. The idea of the ‘China Dream’ has been especially ubiquitous in Chinese official media since Xi Jinping became president in 2013. The concept refers to “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” In his first address to the nation in March of 2013, Xi emphasized that in order to realise the “Chinese road”: “(..) we must spread the Chinese spirit, which combines the spirit of the nation with patriotism as the core and the spirit of the time with reform and innovation as the core.”

Tao’s story fits this idea of the Chinese shared ‘road to prosperity’ dream. She started out poor but created her own business in spite of all obstacles. Along the way, she was always prepared to help out others while she herself rarely relied on her network or other people’s money to reach her goals.

Throughout her business journey, Tao has stayed true to her province, earning her the “Miracle of Guizhou” nickname. Despite the many offers she had throughout her career to set up her business elsewhere, she always refused to leave her home base – much to the delight of local government officials who have continuously shown their support for Tao. The businesswoman is a blessing for the province; not just because her brand has become known as a unique ‘product of Guizhou’, but mainly because she offers employment to nearly 5000 staff members, and directly and indirectly generates income for ten-thousands of local farmers.

Tao is also a Party member, and she is politically active as, among others, a representative of the Standing Committee of the Guizhou Provincial People’s Congress. She attended the National People’s Congress in Beijing multiple times.

Tao Huabi at the Two Sessions, photo via Sohu.com.

While Lao Gan Ma is one of China’s national brands, Tao Huabi is often also seen as a patriotic entrepreneur. Lao Gan Ma’s condiments are much more expensive outside in foreign countries than in China. While a two-pack of Lao Gan Ma is sold for only 9.9 yuan ($1.5) on Chinese e-commerce platform Taobao, the same pack is sold in the US for 13 up to 18 dollars on the American Amazon: eight to twelve times more expensive than the Chinese price. When asked about the enormous Lao Gan Ma price difference between China and other countries, Tao said: “I’m Chinese. I don’t make money off of Chinese people. I want to sell Lao Gan Ma to foreign countries and make money off of foreigners.”

Lao Gan Ma’s popularity outside of China has risen over the past decade. On Facebook, there is even a public group called “The Lao Gan Ma (老干妈) Appreciation Society,” where the group members (over 4000!) share their love for the brand.

Examples of Tao Huabi featured in fashion and accessories. Tao Huabi as a fashion icon?!

Meanwhile, on Chinese social media platform Weibo, Lao Gan Ma and Tao Huabi’s story often pop up in people’s posts: “Old Godmother is an example that you can still make it in life without any education.”

Perhaps there is no better person to embody the Chinese dream than Tao Huabi, who has experienced life in China from so many different angles. A poor farmer’s daughter, a young struggling widow, a migrant factory worker, a loving mother, a roadside peddler, a business manager, a loyal Party member, and even an unexpected fashion icon – Tao Huabi has seen and been it all. There is one thing she will always be: China’s chili sauce queen.

 

By Manya Koetse
Follow @whatsonweibo

1 Zhang Nali 张丽娜. 2019 (2016). Tao Huabi, Founder of Lao Gan Ma: If I Wouldn’t Have Been Strong, I Would’ve Starved [老干妈创始人陶华碧 我不坚强就没得饭吃] (in Chinese). Beijing: Chinese Publishing House. ISBN 978-7-5075-4451-0.

Featured image by Ama for Yi Magazin.

This text was written for Goethe-Institut China under a CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0-DE license (Creative Commons) as part of a monthly column in collaboration with What’s On Weibo.

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

Manya Koetse is the founder and editor-in-chief of whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer, public speaker, and researcher (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends, digital developments, and new media in an ever-changing China, with a focus on Chinese society, pop culture, and gender issues. She shares her love for hotpot on hotpotambassador.com. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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1 Comment

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  1. Avatar

    Godfree Roberts

    August 23, 2021 at 8:44 am

    “During the Great Chinese Famine (1959-1961)”??

    There was no Great Chinese Famine between 1959-1961. There were three difficult years, but nobody starved to death.

    There was a Great Chinese Famine in 1942, during which millions starved to death, but that’s another matter.

    There is a claimed, Great Famine in 1959-61, but the claims lack evidence, motive, or explanation and the book by the principal claimant, Frank Dikotter, is untrustworthy–even on its face. The cover image of a starving Chinese child was taken in 1942 (because, the author explained, “I couldn’t find any pictures of starvation from 1959-60).

    There WAS an El Nino event from 1959-60 and there WAS an American embargo on exporting grain to China–designed to starve the country into submission, but even the CIA admitted that it had not failed:

    April 4, 1961: The Chinese Communist regime is now facing the most serious economic difficulties it has confronted since it concentrated its power over mainland China. As a result of economic mismanagement, and especially of two years of unfavorable weather, food production in 1960 was hardly larger than in 1957, at which time there were about 50 million fewer Chinese to feed. Widespread famine does not appear to be at hand. Still, in some provinces, many people are now on a bare subsistence diet, and the bitterest suffering lies immediately ahead, in the period before the July harvests. The dislocations caused by the ‘Leap Forward’ and the removal of Soviet technicians have disrupted China’s industrialization program. These difficulties have sharply reduced the rate of economic growth during 1960 and have created a severe balance of payments problem. Public morale, especially in rural areas, is almost certainly at its lowest point since the Communists assumed power, and there have been some instances of open dissidence.

    May 2, 1962: The future course of events in Communist China will be shaped largely by three highly unpredictable variables: the wisdom and realism of the leadership, the level of agricultural output, and the nature and extent of foreign economic relations. During the past few years, all three variables have worked against China. In 1958, the leadership adopted a series of ill-conceived and extremist economic and social programs; in 1959, there occurred the first of three years of bad crop weather; and in 1960, Soviet economic and technical cooperation was largely suspended. The combination of these three factors has brought economic chaos to the country. Malnutrition is widespread, foreign trade is down, and industrial production and development have dropped sharply. No quick recovery from the regime’s economic troubles is in sight.
    Ridiculing the Great Leap Forward as ‘The Great Leap Backward,’ Edgar Snow confirmed the CIA’s findings:
    Were the 1960 calamities as severe as reported in Peking, ‘the worst series of disasters since the nineteenth century,’ as Chou En-lai told me? The weather was not the only cause of the disappointing harvest, but it was undoubtedly a major cause. With good weather, the crops would have been ample; without it, other adverse factors I have cited–some discontent in the communes, bureaucracy, transportation bottlenecks–weighed heavily. Merely from personal observations in 1960, I know that there was no rain in large areas of northern China for 200-300 days. I have mentioned unprecedented floods in central Manchuria where I was marooned in Shenyang for a week …while eleven typhoons struck northeast China–the largest number in fifty years, and I saw the Yellow River reduced to a small stream. Throughout 1959-1962, many Western press editorials continued referring to ‘mass starvation’ in China and continued citing no supporting facts. As far as I know, no report by any non-Communist visitor to China provides an authentic instance of starvation during this period. Here I am not speaking of food shortages, or lack of surfeit, to which I have made frequent reference, but of people dying of hunger, which is what ‘famine’ connotes to most of us, and what I saw in the past.

    Felix Greene, too, traveled throughout China in 1960:
    With the establishment of the new Government in Peking in 1949, two things happened. First, starvation–death by hunger–ceased in China. There have been food shortages–and severe ones, but no starvation–a fact fully documented by Western observers. The truth is that the sufferings of the ordinary Chinese peasant from war, disorder, and famine have been immeasurably less in the last decade than in any other decade in the century.

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China Brands & Marketing

The Price is Not Right: Corn Controversy Takes over Chinese Social Media

It’s corn! The “6 yuan corn” debate just keeps going.

Manya Koetse

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Recently there have been fierce discussions on Chinese social media about the price of corn after e-commerce platform Oriental Selection (东方甄选) started selling ears of corn for 6 yuan ($0.80) per piece.

The controversy caught the public’s attention when the famous Kuaishou livestreamer Simba (辛巴, real name Xin Youzhi), who has labeled himself as a ‘farmer’s son,’ criticized Oriental Selection for their corn prices.

Founded in 2021, Oriental Selection is an agricultural products e-commerce platform under New Oriental Online. In its company mission statement, Oriental Selection says its intention is to “help farmers” by providing the channels to sell their high-quality agricultural goods to online consumers.

Simba suggested that Oriental Selection was being deceitful by promising to help farmers while selling their corn for a relatively high price. According to Simba, they were just scamming ordinary people by selling an ear of corn that is worth 0.70 yuan ($0.10) for 6 yuan ($0.80), and also not really helping the farmers while taking 40% of their profits.

‘Sales king’ Xin Youzhi, aka Simba, was the one who started the current corn controversy.

During one of the following livestreams, Oriental Selection’s host Dong Yuhui (董宇辉) – who also happens to be a farmer’s son – responded to the remarks and said there was a valid reason for their corn to be priced “on the high side.” Simba was talking about corn in general, including the kind being fed to animals, while this is high-quality corn that is already worth 2 yuan ($0.30) the moment it is harvested.

Despite the explanation, the issue only triggered more discussions on the right price for corn and about the fuzzy structure of the agricultural e-commerce livestreaming business.

Is it really too expensive to sell corn for 6 yuan via livestreaming?

The corn supplier, the Chinese ‘Northeast Peasant Madame’ brand (东北农嫂), is actually selling their own product for 3.6 yuan ($0.50) – is that an honest price? What amount of that price actually goes to the farmers themselves?

‘Northeast Peasant Madame’ brand (东北农嫂).

One person responding to this issue via her Tiktok channel is the young farmer Liu Meina (刘美娜), who explained that Simba’s suggested “0.70 yuan per corn” was simply unrealistic, saying since it does not take the entire production process into account, including maintenance, packaging, transportation, and delivery.

Another factor mentioned by netizens is the entertainment value added to e-commerce by livestreaming channels. Earlier this year, Oriental Selection’s host Dong Yuhui and his colleagues became an online hit for adding an educational component to their livestreaming sessions.

These hosts were actually previously teachers at New Oriental. Facing a crackdown on China’s after-school tutoring, the company ventured into different business industries and let these former teachers go online to sell anything from peaches to shrimp via livestreaming, teaching some English while doing so (read more here). So this additional value of livestream hosts entertaining and educating their viewers should also be taken into account when debating the price of corn. Some call it “Dong Yuhui Premium” (“董宇辉溢价”).

Dong Yuhui (董宇辉) is one of the livestreamers that have turned New Oriental’s e-commerce into a viral hit.

In light of all the online discussions and controversy, netizens discovered that Oriental Selection is currently no longer selling corn (#东方甄选回应下架玉米#), which also became a trending topic on Weibo on September 29.

But the corn controversy does not end here. On September 28, Chinese netizens discovered that corn by the ‘Northeast Peasant Madame’ brand (东北农嫂) was being sold for no less than 8.5 yuan ($1.2) at the Pangdonglai supermarket chain (胖东来), going well beyond the price of Oriental Selection.

Trying to avoid a marketing crisis, the Pangdonglai chain quickly recalled its corn, stating there had been an issue with the supply price that led to its final store price becoming too high. That topic received over 160 million views on Weibo on Friday (#胖东来召回8.5元玉米#).

Behind all these online discussions are consumer frustrations about an untransparent market where the field of agricultural products has become more crowded and with more people taking a share, including retailers, e-commerce platforms, and livestreaming apps. Moreover, they often say they are “helping farmers” while they are actually just making money themselves.

One Weibo user commented: “Currently, ‘helping farmers’ is completely different from the original intention of ‘helping farmers.’ Right now, it’s not about helping farmers anymore, but about helping the companies who have made agricultural products their business.”

“I bought a corn at a street shop today for 4 yuan ($0.55),” one Weibo blogger wrote: “It was big, sweet, and juicy, the quality was good and it was tasty – and people are still making money off of it. So yes, 6 yuan for a corn is certainly too expensive.”

By Manya Koetse 

 

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China Brands & Marketing

How Made-in-China ‘Magical’ Winter Essentials Are Keeping Europeans Warm Amid Energy Crisis

Chinese manufacturers of heating equipment are the “invisible champions” of Europe’s energy crisis.

Manya Koetse

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Chinese companies are profiting from Europe’s energy crisis. Made-in-China electric blankets, electric kettles, sleeping bags, and hot water bottles are flying off the shelves and Chinese factories are working around the clock to meet the demand of European consumers.

“Chinese Electric Blankets Are the Magic Weapon Keeping Europeans Warm This Winter” (#中国电热毯成欧洲人今冬御寒神器#) and “Explosive Sales of Chinese Electric Blankets to Europeans” (#欧洲人买爆中国电热毯#) are among the popular hashtags discussed on Chinese social media this week in light of Europe’s ongoing energy crisis.

Chinese companies are seeing booming sales of winter essentials recently. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Europe is dealing with an energy crisis. Households and businesses across Europe are feeling the pinch: the shortage of natural gas has led to sky-high prices for heating and electricity. The explosions and subsequent gas leaks that occurred on the Nord Stream natural gas pipelines on September 26 have only made prospects bleaker.

Looking for creative ways to stay warm and reduce energy bills, made-in-China products are in high demand among European consumers, and Chinese factories are scaling up their production to meet the growing demand.

According to Toutiao News, some manufacturers in Dongguan are seeing the highest sales numbers in half a decade; sales volumes have tripled compared to the same period last year. This requires the factory workers to work in shifts of three so the production can continue around the clock.

Electric blankets are especially popular as they are relatively affordable and more cost-effective as they require less electricity to run compared to electric heaters. Chinese electric blankets are generally cheaper than local options.

Chinese media describe Chinese electric blankets as the ‘magical weapons to defend against the cold’ (“御寒神器”).

The word shénqì (神器), meaning ‘magical tool’ or ‘magical weapon’, is often used to refer to products or objects that provide a simple or smart solution to a pressing problem, such as these paint buckets that became a viral hit during Spring festival travel season; this ‘magical’ device to prevent grannies from dancing underneath your window; or this gadget to take revenge on a noisy neighbor.

 

“Now there’s even a joke saying the Yiwu electric blanket sellers are the ones who sabotaged the Nord Stream pipelines.”

 

Besides electric blankets, other made-in-China ‘magical weapons’ that have become popular amongst European consumers include electric kettles, wearable sleeping bags, thermal underwear, and hot water bottles.

Electronic knee warmer.

As this topic of Chinese winter products “taking over Europe” recently became a hot topic on Chinese social media, some people commented on how the prices for these products were much higher in Europe than in China.

In Europe, a simple rubber hot water bottle is usually sold for around ten euros ($10) while the exact same products are sold for around five to ten yuan ($0.70-$1.5) in China.

In this way, the European energy crisis turns out to be a lucrative one for Chinese businesses. Some bigger companies also manufacturing electric blankets saw their stock prices rise.

One joke circulating on Chinese social media suggests that Chinese electric blanket sellers from manufacturing cities such as Yiwu are the ones who sabotaged the North Stream pipes.

“I never expected China to get part of the profits,” one popular comment said, with the following comment saying: “Thanks to the silly Europeans for making a contribution to our economy!”

“I heard they’re even looking [to buy] our Chinese birthday candles, they’ve gone mad,” one Weibo user wrote, while others jokingly wrote: “We’re the real winners.”

In light of the run on electric blankets, Chinese netizens also came up with some alternative suggestions to stay warm.

“It would be better if they’d wear long underwear pants,” one commenter suggests, while others say that people could just “make love to generate electricity.”

“Use a hot-water bottle and drink lots of hot water,” some write, while others recommend European consumers to buy more hand warmers.

Hand warmer sold on Taobao for 128 yuan ($18).

“I suggest them to buy our Xinjiang cotton quilts, they are sustainable and you can save on energy,” one Weibo user wrote in reference to last year’s Xinjiang cotton boycott.

One Weibo user drew their own conclusion in light of the current developments: “I think we could safely say that the world can do without Russians, but we’ll always need China.”

By Manya Koetse with contributions by Miranda Barnes

 

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