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China’s inflation warriors a step ahead of bond bears

TOKYO – As Western economists brawl about when inflation might flare up, Chinese authorities are beating them to the punch.

This take-no-chances approach on upward price pressures from those imported via commodity markets to any froth in domestic property markets makes for quite a contrast with officials from Washington to Sydney.

The commodity risk moved to Beijing’s front-burner with news that producer prices jumped 4.4% in March from a year earlier – the biggest increase in two years. Though consumer prices are less worrisome, having risen only 0.4% in March, the question for Chinese President Xi Jinping is “for how long?”

Public responses have been both rhetorical and tangible. Last week, China’s Financial Stability and Development Committee urged authorities to “keep a close eye on commodities prices.”