China will raise the retail prices for gasoline and diesel by 300 yuan (47.53 U.S. dollars) per tonne starting Feb. 8, the country's top economic planner said Tuesday.
The benchmark retail price of gasoline will be lifted by 0.22 yuan per liter and diesel by 0.26 yuan per liter, according to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).
The latest price change, which has been anticipated by the market, comes amid rising pressure for the country's refineries, as the increasing international crude oil futures prices keep driving up their operation costs.
With the easing European debt crisis and intensifying conflicts in the oil-rich Middle East, fuel prices on the international market have been climbing this year.
On Jan. 4, the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures prices rose to 103.22 U.S. dollars per barrel, an increase of 37 percent from the lowest point last October.
The prices of the international crude had moved beyond a 4-percent range within 22 consecutive working days on Feb. 2, triggering widespread speculation that the NDRC will move to up prices.
But the NDRC delayed the adjustment to Feb. 7, right after the much-celebrated Lantern Festival, which falls on Feb. 6 this year.
The price rise will help motivate the oil refineries, ensure supply in the domestic market, guide rational consumption and promote emission cuts, an official with the NDRC said.
The move follows the previous change on October 8 last year, when the NDRC announced the first price cut in 16 months, taking the fuel prices off from record highs.
China's current oil pricing system was introduced in May 2009. The system gives the NDRC the right to adjust domestic fuel, diesel and gas prices when average prices for Brent, Cinta, and Dubai crude oil move by 4 percent within 22 consecutive working days.