Are mainland prices higher than in U.S?
Have prices of some consumer goods on the mainland outpaced those in the United States?
The findings of an informal survey by a mainland newspapers suggest that may be the case.
Last week, the Guangzhou-based Yangcheng Evening News distributed a questionnaire to its readers with the headline 'What can 100 yuan buy on the mainland?'
Instead, the question raised another: what can US$100 buy in America?
Mainlanders submitted lists of items they could buy for 100 yuan (HK$122) in their places of residence, while their American friends and relatives submitted similar lists of items they could buy for US$100.
The survey findings, published yesterday, found that most respondents liked to compare the prices of consumer goods on the mainland and the US.
A respondent wrote that a monthly salary of US$2,000 could afford him all the necessary home appliances in the US, but it was enough for just an LED television on the mainland.
Another respondent cited a US-based Chinese friend as saying that US$100 could buy three pairs of Levi's jeans in the US, while it cost 700 yuan, or about US$110, to buy just one pair in Guangzhou.
Most respondents' shopping lists focused on daily necessities such as food, clothing and transport. And there was rife debate about rising food prices, which account for a third of the consumer price index. Soaring prices of pork, a mainland food staple, was of particular interest.
A respondent said 3kg of pork costs 90 yuan, while 5kg of soy bean oil cost 100 yuan, which would have bought 10kg just two years ago.
Another said 100 yuan, which was enough to last him half a month in 2004, lasts just four days now.
He said inflation has far outpaced his salary since 2004.
The survey found that 100 yuan was enough to buy food for five people in Guangdong for a day, but it was barely enough to buy a piece of clothing for a Shanghai resident.
Rising prices have become a politically sensitive issue for the central government, which is concerned that inflation could undermine social stability.
The survey came as Premier Wen Jiabao once again vowed to stabilise surging food prices and ensure a stable supply of food.
Visiting low-income families and markets in the northeastern port city of Dalian on Wednesday and Thursday, Wen expressed his concern about surging prices and said the government would work to encourage pig-farming to stabilise pork prices.
The mainland is often believed to have cheaper goods than developed countries. However, recent media surveys suggest that staple items - such as fruit, eggs, milk and meat - are now more expensive on the mainland than in the US.
Pork prices surged 45.5 per cent in August from a year ago, and led increases in food prices, which rose 13.4 per cent from a year ago last month, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Wednesday.