A school soccer competition will promote cheese consumption in Beijing, bringing together President Xi Jinping's passions for sports and upgrading Chinese industries, according to a December 2017 announcement by the Ministry of Agriculture's press office.
The "Dream Cup" is an open competition for teams from Beijing schools sponsored by a Beijing dairy company that will promote cheese consumption by students. But it is also much more than that. The cheese soccer activity illustrates the growing personality cult of Xi Jinping and ambitions to bring together disparate elements of society to achieve lofty national goals, with communist party coordination in the background.
"D20" dairy industry leaders pose with school children July 2017. Source: Ministry of Agriculture.
According to the announcement, the cheese-centered soccer competition is an implementation of the "spirit" of the 19th communist party congress held in October and a "measure to implement Xi Jinping's specific instructions." The competition was organized by the Ministry of Agriculture in conjunction with the China Dairy Association and Beijing Municipal Soccer Association, and with sponsorship by Beijing's Sanyuan Food Co. and the Beijing Peoples Broadcasting Association. The competition is part of a "China moderately well-off milk action plan" launched in February 2017 which distributed free dairy products to schools in poor regions as one of its efforts to revive the Chinese dairy industry.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the soccer competition will integrate youth sports with upgrades of the Chinese dairy industry by encouraging consumption of cheese by young people, promoting development of soccer and other sports, adopting habits of hard work and improving physical fitness. The Ministry's announcement explains that the Chinese dairy industry has made progress in boosting milk consumption and improving quality and safety, but it still faces challenges that include an imbalanced product structure. Promoting cheese consumption is a hoped-for "breakthrough" for the dairy industry's development. (note: cheese was nearly nonexistent in China until about 10 years ago and is still seldom consumed). This will bring about a hoped-for "historic transformation" from a "big dairy country to a strong dairy country," the Ministry's announcement said.