Oil prices see biggest increase in 2017, prompting complaints

Society & Culture

Top society and culture news for April 12, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina news roundup "Did this phone call get results?"

Gasoline prices jumped by 0.15 yuan a liter ($0.02 a liter, or nearly $0.08 a gallon) today throughout much of China. Media reports, such as this one (in Chinese) on Sina.com blamed delayed output from OPEC and suspensions of oil production in Libya. While the increase was not huge, gas now costs close to 7 yuan or $1.02 per liter ($3.86 a gallon) across the country, marking a return to the “seven yuan age.”

The heavy costs of urban living, from housing to food to gasoline, are common topics of complaint on social media in China, and this event was no exception. One commenter wrote (in Chinese), “housing prices have gone crazy, building materials are crazy, metals are crazy, energy is crazy, and [our currency’s] been devalued…,” and blamed it all on the “good deeds” of a few powerful people. Many commenters jokingly referenced an old internet meme of a fake state media headline, “The whole nation gladly welcomes the rise in oil prices” (“全国人民喜迎油价上涨,” quánguó rénmín xǐ yíng yóujià shàngzhǎng).

Data from the World Bank indicates that pump prices for gasoline are generally higher in China than many oil-producing countries around the world, including the U.S., but cheaper than in pacific neighbors Japan, South Korea, and Australia, and much cheaper than in most of Europe.