« Restricting the foreign press | Main | Forecast: China to top medals table »

Paying more at China's gas pumps


Ordinarily, an increase in the price of gasoline would not be news. But in China, it is. Gas and diesel prices went up 18 percent overnight. Here’s why that’s important.

China sets domestic energy prices. Gas, diesel, jet fuel and electricity are all carefully controlled.

The last time Beijing allowed gas prices to rise was in November. Since then, crude oil prices on the world market have climbed about 40 percent. Until earlier this week, Chinese consumers were paying about $2.60 per gallon for 90 octane gasoline, while consumers in the U.S. have been paying upwards of $4.00 a gallon.

Every time I filled up the office car, I’d think: Thank you, China! You’ve just given me a rebate of $1.40 a gallon. Merry Christmas to you, too!

Obviously, that subsidy was unsustainable. The two major oil refiners that retail gasoline could not continue losing tens of millions of dollars.

The prevailing thinking, though, was that Beijing would bite the bullet and not raise gas prices till after the Olympic Games in August, desiring complete social stability before and during the Games.  Also, it put off action in order not to aggravate rising inflation.

That thinking was wrong.

The price increase shows that other important factors came into play. Around Asia, other nations were pushing up subsidized prices, including India, Indonesia and Malaysia. China was coming under criticism that its artificially low prices were stimulating demand, forcing prices up further.

That is why oil markets plunged $4 or so with China’s announcement.

Also, shortages of gas were breaking out in southern China, a sign that refiners and retailers are weary of selling at a loss.

An analyst appearing now on CCTV 9, Tang Min of the China Development Research Foundation, is saying that he expects a second price hike soon and that the two hikes will stimulate the refiners to bring more gas to the market.

“If the companies lose less money, the more incentive to produce more,” Tang just said.

Social stability is still a major concern, of course. Another headline this morning notes the continuing drop in Shanghai stock market, which is affecting tens of millions of small investors. The main index plunged 6.5 percent  yesterday, dropping to 2,748, less than half of what it was last Oct. 16 when it hit a record 6,124.

The big question is what impact the hikes will have on inflation. The Consumer Price Index fell to 7.7 percent year-on-year in May, a dip from April’s 8.5 percent, giving officials breathing room to act. But could inflation soon hit double digits?

I think it already has. We went to a neighborhood restaurant last night, and I’m convinced the prices were at least 20 to 30 percent higher than the last time I was there a couple of months ago.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Paying more at China's gas pumps:



AB, I would have thought you'd be offended by such a comment!

Actually, when I felt the earth move in Beijing that was EXACTLY what I was thinking ... exactly how sound is this building?



This is from the Washington Post about the "new" buildings that is around you:

"Johannes Dell, who runs the Shanghai office of AS&P architects, puts it more bluntly: "When you catapult a peasant from a rice paddy to the 81st floor and say you should install a suspended ceiling, this is what happens." By "this" he means sloppy work, something lamented by almost every architect in China who doesn't have access to the resources of a Rem Koolhaas or a Herzog & de Meuron. Sleek, modernist structures often suffer the most. Look closely at a generic concrete, glass and steel box in China and you see lines of bad rivets, cracks in the concrete, misaligned moldings and flashings, and holes where they shouldn't be."


If the top of the line buildings have this problem... what must be the earthquake collapsed ones be like...


What's with this mug AB? He/she is always the first one to post...take a break!
You sound like a bon bon queen shut-in..stalk another site.

Thanks again Tim for your reflections..very informative


Hemp can produce several different kinds of fuel. In the 1800's and 1900's hempseed oil was the primary source of fuel in the United States and was commonly used for lamps and other oil energy needs. The diesel engine was originally designed to run on hemp oil because Rudolf Diesel assumed that it would be the most common fuel. Hemp is also the most efficient plant for the production of methanol. It is estimated that, in one form or another, hemp grown in the United States could provide up to ninety percent of the nation's entire energy needs.
Source: Schaffer Library of Drug Policy

Hemp is 4 times more efficient than corn as biofuel. Hemp pellets can be used to produce clean electricity.

... so powerful it could replace every type of fossil fuel energy product (oil, coal, and natural gas).

... This plant is the earth's number one biomass resource or fastest growing annual plant for agriculture on a worldwide basis, producing up to 14 tons per acre. This is the only biomass source available that is capable of producing all the energy needs of the U.S. and the world...

Hemp will produce cleaner air and reduce greenhouse gases. When biomass fuel burns, it produces CO2 (the major cause of the greenhouse effect), the same as fossil fuel; but during the growth cycle of the plant, photosynthesis removes as much CO2 from the air as burning the biomass adds, so hemp actually cleans the atmosphere. After the first cycle there is no further loading to the atmosphere...
Source: USA Hemp Museum

Internet Explorer: http://jsknow.angelfire.com/home
Other Browsers: http://jsknow.angelfire.com/index.html


There is a certain pleasure to telling them to take a hike, and take more hikes until the price of energy is high enough to encourage conservation, green and renew ables, and alternatives.

So go take another hike.

The comments to this entry are closed.



"China Rises" is written by Tom Lasseter, the Beijing bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers.

Send Tom a story suggestion.

Read Tom's stories at news.mcclatchy.com.

Follow Tom on Twitter: @TomLasseter

Follow Tom on Google Plus

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner


    Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
              1 2
    3 4 5 6 7 8 9
    10 11 12 13 14 15 16
    17 18 19 20 21 22 23
    24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Photo Albums