China fines Unilever in inflation crackdown

 Published: 5/6/2011 12:10:03 AM GMT
AP Original Cached

BEIJING – China has fined consumer products maker Unilever for talking to Chinese media about possible price hikes that triggered a rush to buy while Beijing is trying to rein in surging inflation.

The British-Dutch company was fined 2 million yuan ($308,000) for "spreading information about price rises and disrupting market pricing order," the Cabinet's planning agency said Friday.

Chinese authorities have told companies to hold down price increases to help cool inflation that spiked to a 32-month high of 5.4 percent in March. The government has declared taming inflation its priority and has raised interest four times since October and imposed lending and investment curbs.

Unilever is accused of violating orders to makers of noodles, liquor and hygiene products such as soaps to avoid talking publicly about prices, according to the statement by the National Development and Reform Commission.

A woman who answered the phone in the press office of Unilever's China headquarters said it was preparing to issue a statement.

Chinese authorities are trying to cool public expectations of high price rises in coming months. They worry such expectations might fuel a spiral in higher living costs by prompting retail price hikes and higher wage demands.

The planning agency said Unilever managers were accused of talking to reporters from the government's Xinhua News Agency and Chinese business newspapers about prices. It said reports published by those outlets triggered a "buying rush" in some markets.

Unilever's personal hygiene brands in China include Dove and Lux soaps.


National Development and Reform Commission:


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