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[Image: 01062021-Chinai_ndustry-pixabay.jpg]

BEIJING – China's top economic planner said it is considering an intervention to bring down soaring coal prices, as Beijing frets over a cost spike that has put increasing pressure on the country's energy security and growth, while posing a threat to the global economy.

The world's number two economy expanded slower than expected in the third quarter as an energy crisis began to bite, official data showed this week, with electricity shortages and production cuts dragging industrial output.

The crisis comes as global commodity prices soar owing to a surge in demand as the world reopens from Covid lockdowns, while the problem has been exacerbated by government targets to cut emissions and a sharp drop in imports from Australia owing to a political standoff.

Yesterday, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said it was studying measures to cap coal prices, which have hit record highs.

In an online statement published after meeting with industry leaders, the NDRC noted that costs “have risen rapidly, hitting successive record highs, greatly pushing up production costs... and adversely affecting power supply and winter heating”.

It warned it would take a “zero tolerance” approach and “severely crack down on” activities like spreading false information or price collusion, so as to maintain market order.

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