Chinese fuel shortages
Tibet isn't the only crisis that has the powers-that-be in Beijing desperately trying to control the news cycle. Here's something they might find even more worrisome: Gasoline and diesel shortages.
China's leaders are facing renewed pressure over shortfalls in
diesel and gasoline, with lines growing at filling stations in major
cities Monday as the gap widens between international crude oil values
and centrally controlled fuel prices.
The shortages, first
reported in southern and inland China, appeared to be spreading to the
wealthier areas in the north and east as filling stations struggled to
get shipments from refiners. Four stations contacted Monday in Shanghai
said their daily diesel shipments had not yet arrived.
Even in the capital itself, a few stations here and there have shut down diesel sales, or they're rationing the amount people can buy. And in Shanghai, the local authorities are making almost comical public statements.
The city, China's commercial center and a key trade transport hub,
has enough diesel to last more than 10 days, the municipal Economic
Commission said in a statement seen Monday on its Web site.
are set by the government, so consumers should not panic over fears of
surging prices or try to stockpile fuel," it said.
It appealed to
city residents to "show understanding regarding the temporary shortages
and to please preserve traffic order around filling stations" —
alluding to troubles with frustrated drivers unable to fill their tanks.
I noted earlier this month an increasing number of news stories out there hinting the China growth story isn't everything it's cracked up to be. Combine fuel shortages with the plans to temporarily shut down factories to try to clear the air in advance of the Olympics in August, and you're talking significant disruptions.