Pictures of Chinese Navy sailors allegedly stocking up on cartons of baby formula during a visit to Brisbane last week have set tongues wagging over social media.
Images have surfaced of men in uniform either carrying, or standing next to, piles of boxes that are reportedly cartons of ‘Aptamil Gold +3’, a baby formula that sells for around $19 per tin in Australian supermarkets.
Shanghaiist.com, a popular Chinese lifestyle blog, claims the worldwide goodwill visits to Australia, the United States and Sweden are in fact a ‘guise’ where soldiers ‘just happened to make off with a whole lot of Australian baby formula’.
But another Chinese media outlet has defended the actions of the navy saying that perhaps the large quantities were to be shared among the hundreds of sailors onboard.
“Look at the number of warships within. There must be hundreds of people. Number of milk per capita basis, each bought very little milk!” Chinese Australia Media Online wrote.
Users on Reddit weren’t convinced of the photo’s authenticity.
“I have never seen baby formula in boxes of these sizes,” one user wrote.
“Could this not be ships rations? It's not baby formula,” said another.
Supermarkets in Australia have had to limit the amount of baby formula purchased per customer in recent months, as a frenzy for clean formula overseas has been clearing shelves across the nation.
Demand for the product in China has been growing since 2008 after a melamine contamination killed six infants and caused around 100,000 to fall ill.
Chinese Ambassador Ma Zhaoxu said the navy visit was part of the ‘bilateral exchanges between the two countries’.
“This visit by the Chinese Navy to Australia is a symbol of furthering of co-operation in 2016,” he told the Brisbane Times.
A crowd of 1000 people welcomed the ships to Brisbane, where they stayed for five days.
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