Peking controls food prices

PEKING has reintroduced price controls on a number of basic foodstuffs after sharp rises over the past week fuelled fears that inflation was hitting those who can least afford it.

An emergency meeting of the municipal government on Saturday ordered price limits on 27 commodities, including rice and pork, and told inspection teams to crack down on shops that raised prices above the new levels. According to the official China Daily newspaper yesterday, prices of some basic foodstuffs have jumped by up to 40 per cent in the past week.

In a separate initiative this week, the deputy prime minister, Zhu Rongji, said that the central government had made arrangements to bring the price of grain under control and to stabilise the market. State-owned shops would sell subsidised grain at lower prices to bring the price down, he said.

The reasons for the price rises are not clear. Officials have blamed farmers for not selling grain and other crops, preferring to hoard them in anticipation of price rises next year. Mr Zhu, anxious to calm consumers' possible worries, said national grain reserves were at an all-time high and the grain-price rise was 'abnormal, temporary and stirred by psychological factors'. In Peking's street markets there is no sign of any scarcity.

The new measures, if implemented, would represent a retreat on the Chinese government's commitment to remove state controls on prices and to free the trading of commodities. It was only in May this year, for instance, that Peking's government lifted price controls on grain and edible oils. At this stage, yesterday's announcements seem to be principally a warning shot against those who may be contemplating profiteering in the run-up to Chinese New Year in February. Yesterday's People's Daily blamed 'speculative profiteers' acting as middle-men between the peasants and the shops.

Food prices are one of China's most sensitive issues and the government's statements look designed to head off any panic buying. Inflation in the big cities is running at over 20 per cent, and although food remains cheap the poorest members of the public are still vulnerable.

China said yesterday that the BBC would be held responsible for showing a documentary which reported that Mao Tse-tung enjoyed having sex with large numbers of young women, Reuter reports.

The Foreign Ministry did not say what the consequences of showing the film would be. It said the BBC had 'hurt the feelings of the Chinese people' by screening the film in the face of Chinese protests. The film was shown on Monday during the run-up to the centenary of Mao's birth on 26 December.

'The BBC should be held fully responsible for all the consequences arising therefrom,' the statement said. Mao's doctor for 22 years, Li Zhisui, said in the documentary that 'women were toys for Mao'. He added that Mao preferred them young and innocent. The discussion of Mao's sexual appetite took up only a few moments of the hour-long documentary.

Mao's many happy returns, page 17

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - 3-4 Month Fixed Contract - £30-£35k pro rata

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a 3-4 month pro rata fi...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £26,000+

£16000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telesales Executive is requir...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map