Chairman Mao once said that it was “glorious to scrimp, shameful to waste”, and the edict has finally filtered down to the mess halls of the People’s Liberation Army.
After feasting on an ever-expanding defence budget for two decades, China’s army has launched a new exercise in austerity: Operation Fried Rice.
Xinhua, the state news agency, said soldiers who do not finish all their food will eat the leftovers the following day.
“Unfinished rice and other dishes should be re-cooked into fried rice with eggs and fried steamed bread, and leftover parts of vegetables be made into various pickles and appetisers,” said Xinhua.
It added that a huge share of the country’s military budget, which last year topped £70 billion, was spent on feeding the PLA’s 2.3 million troops.
Xinhua did not hazard a guess at how much money the cost-cutting measure would save, and nor was there any clear answer on whether “uneaten food” includes the scrapings from soldiers’ plates.
Nor is the measure just aimed at the rank and file. Officers will also have to adopt “frugal diet habits” as part of the new Chinese leadership’s plan to cut down on waste and extravagance.