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China, Reeling From Typhoon, Acts to Stabilize Food Prices

August 25, 1994| Associated Press

BEIJING — The killer typhoon that hit southern China this week is the latest in a summer of disasters causing huge losses for the country's industries and agriculture.

In a new sign of impending problems, the government Wednesday issued an "urgent notice" calling for measures to stabilize prices of vegetables, pork and other foods.

The prices of these items have been going up too fast this summer in the cities, the Ministry of Internal Trade said in its circular to officials nationwide.

It suggested ways to curb price increases in state-owned stores and called for a crackdown on hoarding food.

Meanwhile, the toll of dead rose to at least 710 from Typhoon Fred, which hit coastal Zhejiang province on Monday.

In Washington, environmentalist Lester R. Brown warned that China's impressive economic growth, spurring a demand for more food imports, could trigger a long-feared global food crisis.

Current concern about hunger centers on Africa. But Brown, who heads the independent Worldwatch Institute, said, "It will not be in the devastation of poverty-stricken Somalia or Haiti, but in the booming economy of China that we will see the inevitable collision" of supply and demand.

The world simply may not be able to produce enough food to meet the shortfall looming for China, Brown wrote in the September-October issue of World Watch, the magazine of the Washington-based think tank.

"When China turns to world markets on an ongoing basis, its food scarcity will become the world's scarcity," he said.

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