China seeks to help students with high food prices

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BEIJING, Sep 21 (Reuters) China, wary of student activism, has called for greater local government effort to help college students struggling with soaring food prices, state media said today.

The call comes days after students in several universities in the southern city of Guangzhou launched a one-day boycott of school canteens in protest against surging food prices.

Higher food prices, including grains and meat, pushed up China's annual consumer inflation rate in August to 6.5 per cent, the fastest in a decade.

Local governments should allocate special subsidies to canteens and students from poor families for the sake of ''promoting social harmony'', State Councillor Chen Zhili told a conference, the People's Daily said.

''We should instruct students to correctly understand and react to the relevant problems arising from price changes and to consciously maintain campus order,'' Chen was quoted as saying.

''Leading school officials should take charge of canteen work and should resolve problems and defuse conflicts,'' she said.

A latest central bank survey showed nearly half Chinese citizens found consumer prices ''hard to accept'', the Beijing News said today.

REUTERS JK BST0950

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