China Students Riot Over Food Cost

A group of high school students in China smashed windows and overturned tables after their canteen hiked prices, the school’s principal said Thursday, amid growing anxiety over soaring food costs.

Students at the No. 2 High School in Liupanshui city in the southwestern region of Guizhou went on a rampage Monday after prices for dishes and bottled water went up by between 0.2 and 0.5 yuan (three to seven cents), principal Fan Guoqing told AFP.

“The prices have been lowered back to their original levels,” Fan said by telephone.

State media reported about a thousand students were involved in the incident but Fan said only 10-20 students took part while many others cheered them on.

Media reports said no one was injured in the protest.

Fan said the students involved would receive “criticism and education”.

The incident came after Beijing, ever fearful of inflation’s historic potential to spark unrest in China, announced a series of measures aimed at curbing spiralling prices and easing consumer angst over rising food costs.

Prices of some vegetables have rocketed more than 60 percent this year and inflation hit a two-year high of 4.4 percent in October, largely due to soaring food costs and above the government’s official full-year target of 3.0 percent.

In the past week, the government has ordered a range of steps to ensure supplies of key goods, offered financial help to the needy and vowed to impose price caps if necessary.

On Wednesday, the central bank said it would continue efforts to stem the volume of credit flooding into the economy and use “various monetary policy tools” to maintain stable prices — suggesting further interest rate hikes and restrictions on bank lending could be imminent.

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