“All Chinese Back to China”: Dutch Rage Over Infant Formula Shortage

Recently, Australia, Germany and the Netherlands complain that Chinese hoard their infant formulas and attribute to their infant formula shortages. Hong Kong netziens discuss the news passionately, as Mainland Chinese hoard infant formula as well as daily necessaries in Hong Kong.

“All Chinese Back to China”

Sina Finance reported that the infant formula shortage in the Netherlands has stirred up anti-Chinese sentiment.


The media of the Netherlands reported that supermarkets limit tins of infant formula a customer can buy. Some articles commented bluntly, “If (Chinese) they don’t nuke us back to the Stone Age, they can still starve us back to the period. Chinese please go back to China.”

The Dutch article from which Sina Finance quoted is “Chinezenprobleem: ze jatten ons babymelkpoeder“, Chinese problem: They Steal Our Baby Milk Powder. The actual comment is even blunter.

“Apply to all Nutricia and Friso infant formulaas: maximum 4 packs per person… This is because the export of infant formula to China increased sharply.”

Nuken ze ons niet naar het stenen tijdperk, dan hongeren ze ons wel uit. Stop de Chinezering van ons melkpoeder! Alle Chinezen terug naar Chinezië!”

… Stop the China-isation of our milk powder! All Chinese back to China!

On Weibo, Chinese Twitter, hoarders still post pictures of them buying, packaging and shipping infant formulas in the Netherlands.

哑霉蝶: 我觉得荷兰货架对牛栏贴这种限购标签 肯定和我家的牛栏奶粉有很大关系
I think the purchasing limit label on the Dutch shelves must be closely related to infant formulas in my home

A smuggler grumbled on Weibo that the Dutch people are lack of tolerance.

N2C荷兰直邮的微博 新浪微博-隨時隨地分享身邊的新鮮事

N2c荷兰直邮: …”Starve back to the Stone Age!” This is really dark humour of the Dutch people. Homosexuality, red light district and euthanasia, they can tolerate. The accepting and calm Dutch people are pressed this time because the Chinese children are robbing food in the world.

Chinese Threat
On Jan 3rd 2012, Daily Telegraph (Sydney) put Chinese hoarding infant formula on the front page.

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On Jan 18th 2013, German tabloid Bild reported German infant formula shortage in a very harsh tone.


Milchpulver-Notstand in Deutschland, wütende Mütter vor leeren Supermarkt-Regalen! „Milumil“ und „Aptamil“ vom Marktführer Milupa aus Hessen – kaum noch zu kriegen.


Seit dem Melamin-Skandal um verunreinigte Milch 2008 (580 Babys krank, eines tot) kaufen die Chinesen lieber deutsche Produkte – und räumen uns die Regale leer.

Milk powder-emergency in Germany – furious mothers stand in front of emptied supermarket shelves! “Milumil” and “Aptamil”, from the market leader Milupa of Hessen – hardly any of them available.


Since the Melamin-tainted milk scandal in 2008 (580 babies were sick. 1 dead), Chinese prefer to buy German product – and empty our shelves.

A supposed-to-be Chinese mother smiles over at the emptied German shelf.

Even the URL of the report mentions the Chinese threat.

chinesen-trinken-unseren-babys-die-milch-weg (Chinese drink our babies’ milk away)

Emptied shelves of a Dm-drogerie Supermarket in Germany
Emptied infant formula shelves inside a German supermarket

On Jan 21st 2012, Dutch broadcaster PowNed titled their report “Baby’s Uitgehongerd Door Chinezen” (Babies are starved by Chinese).

“Babies are Starved by Chinese”

Like German tabloid Bild, their URL also reflects the same Chinese threat.


chinezen_jatten_babyvoeding = Chinese steal baby food

Locust Plague: (Mainland) Chinese Threat in Hong Kong


Wong: Here they come to Hung-Shui-Kiu of Yuen-Long

Place: Hung-Shui-Kiu Mannings…People: People who speak standard Mandarin…

Process: The truck of Mannings offloaded goods. 3 minutes late, all tins of infant formula sold… I’m fucking grateful that you make mothers here look for infant formula everywhere… I’m fucking grateful for you contribution to the economy… Fucking thank you

Ever since Individual Visit Scheme (for Mainland Chinese) began in 2003, Hong Kong retail industry has become completely Mainland-Chinese orientated, so much so that local customers are discriminated. Unique mom-and-pop stores and hole-in-the wall eateries that serve locals right are driven away by cosmetic stores, electronic stores, international luxury brands, jewelery stores and pharmacies.

You can’t accept this environment at all – Jewelery store, pharmacy, pharmacy, pharmacy

As Hong Kong dollar, which is pegged to the U.S dollar, depreciates, hoarding of infant formula, food and other daily necessaries exacerbates and causes inflation. The inflow of hot money leads to rent surge, driving out more small businesses and even local brands.

Hoarding of foreign-made daily necessaries greatly interfered with Hongkongers' lives
Hoarding of daily necessaries severely affects Hongkongers.

Last year September, netizens gathered together at Sheung Shui Station to protest against smuggling as it severely affects daily live. In the protest, “Chinese go back to China” and British Hong Kong flag appeared. To this date, netizens still hold protest against smugglers at Sheung Shui Station constantly.

“Chinese Go Back to China”

Hong Kong Comments

Comment from columnist and scholar Chin Wan

荷蘭是自由貿易的始祖國,也提出限購令,可見奶粉是戰略性的本地嬰兒糧食,並非一般商品。固然,母乳是最佳的嬰兒食物,但限於授乳習慣、婦女外出工作及公 共場所設備等問題,始終要有配方奶粉做嬰兒糧食補充。香港的傳統母親哺乳習慣被配方奶粉打垮,更要政府確保嬰兒奶粉穩定供應。

The Netherlands, the founder of free trade, also has to limit purchase. From this, we can see that infant formula is regarded as strategic food for local babies instead of an ordinary product. Certainly, breast milk is the best baby food. However, due to problems like breastfeeding habit, working moms and public facilities, infant formula is needed as supplementary baby food. In Hong Kong, the tradition of breastfeeding is broken by infant formula. Therefore, the government should even do more to ensure the stable supply of infant formula.

Comment from columnist Ko Wai-yin


On the contrary, Hong Kong government, using the excuse that Hong Kong is a free port, ignores the infant formula shortage. Besides being incapable, Hong Kong government is even irresponsible and unethical.

Hong Kong Netizens Commented on New Zealand Infant Formula Shortage

Illustration by LadyKylie
Illustration by LadyKylie

30 thoughts on ““All Chinese Back to China”: Dutch Rage Over Infant Formula Shortage

  1. “Very grievous were they; before them there were no such locusts as they, neither after them shall be such.

    For they covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left: and there remained not any green thing in the trees, or in the herbs of the field, through all the land… ”

    (Exodus 10:14-15)

  2. I got it! The Dutch should encourage the Chinese to pirate their baby milk, and then publish the whole scandal. Then, once they do that, no mainland Chinese person is every going to dare buy any Dutch milk for fear of buying the wrong stuff. Problem solved.

  3. It will be a global issue real fast. Good job China. You and the mothers are famous again to the world. And you make the long immigrated people like me really bad in the local people’s eyes.

  4. Everyday in Hong Kong, there are 20,000 active “buyer” in the city, each procuring around tens of shampoos, milk powders, iPads, medicines , cigarettes and so. Dunno how much resources are being “stolen” from Europe and America.

  5. Echoing Gweipo – has no-one heard of breastfeeding??? That was my first thought reading this crazy story. Not only is breastmilk free, it is better for your baby anyway. Seriously – can anyone shed any light on breastfeeding rates / attitudes in China? I’d be very interested to know.

    1. Housing prices in Hong Kong are the highest in the World. Therefore, majority of Hong Kong mothers have to work full time. Also, working hour in Hong Kong is among top 5 in the world. With long working hour and stress, it is hard for Hong Kong mothers to breastfeed. On the other hand, (Mainland) China blindly believes that milk powder is better than breast milk. Some even think their breast milk is not good for babies because food in China is tainted. Anyway, in China, you can buy imported milk. China have many foreign supermarkets like American Walmart, British Tesco, French Carrefour… (Mainland) Chinese simply take advantage of higher RMB-to-HKD exchange rate and hoard daily commodity at cheaper prices in Hong Kong.

  6. Dear Badcanto,

    You are great. Thanks for writing this blog.

    Here’s another side of the food scandals:

    Everything European isn’t gold…

    And then there’s the milk powder from the U.S. American regulations allow far higher levels of antibiotics in meat and dairy products than what is healthy. This is reflected in the latest probe by the (Mainland) Chinese government into Yum! (the American company running Pizza Hut and KFC) for dangerous levels of antibiotics in their chicken:

  7. Roger, the problem with KFC is the chicken in China are chinese in nature. Horsemeat is still edible, althrough not tasty.

    Versus chinese products being toxic or hazardous…remember Chinese chickens fed psychotic medicine to speed up their growth.

    PRC chinese making everyone of chinese ancestry look bad.

    I concur breast milk is still best…

  8. Chinese are buying large quantity of almost anything you can think of. If it wasn’t the Chinese hiking the price of the things that we consume for our daily survival, we could have had a much higher standard of living. Just think about it for a second, it is not only about baby formula, it is virturely everything from food to feul to housing to industrial products from everywhere in the world. I have read an article awhile back about China overtaking the US to be the largest oil consumer. Now you understand the crazy gas price you pay at the pump? Miss the good old days when filling your car doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg? Every drop of oil that the Chinese consume is one drop less for you. Every tin can of baby formula that the Chinese buy shifts the demand curve up, therefore increases the price for everyone else. If this current trend goes on, the world economy will soon be destroyed by the locust nature of the Chinese.

    1. It sounds like the Chinese are not allowed to live in the same standard as the westerners. The Chinese are late bloomers, and they are catching up, quite normal in my point of view. The only reason why you are complaining, is that you have to pay more at the pump, maybe you should rethink your spendings… Did you have to cut down from 3 holidays to only 2 a year? Poor you…

      I too don’t like the fact that they are buying up everything, but the Western countries did the same. Something about a kettle and a pot…

      Just wait untill central and southern Africa start to boom, then you’ll have something new to bitch about.

      1. I have news for you. China is indeed not in the same standard as the Western countries. If China takes seriously response with their local milk powder problem and deal with official corruption, people will regain trust and buy the local milk powder. Most importantly, Western countries don’t give a damn about China milk powder, so they won’t buy up every package of them. Ask China why they have the ability to send people to space, but no ability to solve the local milk powder problem.

      2. There some in the west who have already recognized that the affluent lifestyle that has been marketed to the average joe-schmoe is no longer viable. Not just socially and environmentally, but also in terms of resources and the environment. There is no doubt that China is a “late bloomer” economically, but is it going about things the right way? For all the years of anti-imperialist rhetoric, what are they now doing? Trying to live the lifestyle of the imperial west.

        Let’s take bicycles for example: After years of destroying their own health and promoting cars as the default mode of transportation, many cities in America are redesigning their cities and upgrading their roads to accommodate bikes. On the other hand, 20 years ago, you could still see bicycles all over China, yet now it’s nothing but bumper to bumper traffic. So is America turning more communist, or is China becoming more American? There are ways China can continue developing in an environmental-friendly manner without tainting its own environment, but apparently, earning enough quick profits so you and your family can bail out before the ship sinks is much more important than upgrading the infrastructure of your own country.

      3. handyman, slight problem. cars in China have efficiency statndards of Europeans 10-15 years (2-3 generations) ago….why do you think the PRC chinese are choking on smog? I have no problem with PRC chinese catching up, but the ways they are wasting resources (including food) makes me sick. In terms of holidays, your two golden weeks plus CNY holidays total more than double (in days) of public holidays elsewhere.

        Hey, I consider the environmental problems in PRC china a great way for population control, either by one-child policy or by cancer (demonstrated by higher and accelerating cancer rates in China last 10 years.)

  9. Chinese people are unethical and have no consideration for anyone except making money. The only solution is to ban chinese people from entering your country. Those currently living outside of China should be made to return. Chinese are fundamentally money hungry prostitutes.

    1. Tone it down a bit. Over-arching statements aren’t helping at all. Your proposal to ban all Chinese is no different than the Racist policies of the Chinese Exclusion Act in the US, and sure as hell didn’t keep the Chinese from entering the US using other methods. If these people are money-hungry prostitutes, are you saying you work for free? Everyone works for money. Even a singer who says they “want to make good music” doesn’t like the idea of someone else profiting off their song.

      The milk issue is a trade issue, and if Hong Kong government officials had enough balls to stand up against their overlords up in BeiJing, and re-nogotiate via CEPA. The only reason why Chinese are heading down to Hong Kong to buy milk and polluting the place, is because they can’t buy that stuff in the mainland, without paying a shit-ton of taxes. So, now that China has established a Free Trade Zone, this is the perfect opportunity for Hong Kongers to export their baby milk to China. That way, less mainlanders will head down to Hong Kong for the milk. Probably won’t resolve the issue, but it’ll help slightly. The next issue, comes back to CEPA. Why the hell didn’t Hong Kong’s politicians argue to establish free trade zones in GuangDong? A lot of the smugglers are in that province, because Hong Kong is just a train-ride away. If there were free trade zones, that means less taxation on Hong Kong products, which means Hong Kong businesses can export their baby milk up north for cheap. The system people live under, and the environment they live in will affect how they behave. Change the system, and their behavior will change.

  10. A late post, but it was announced that China has relaxed its one-child policy, so I guess Hong Kong will have even less milk formula in future, as long as Chinese tourists continue to come. Hope the dairy producers in other countries are ready for this surge in demand…

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