China's consumer prices rose 0.5 percent in July compared with the same month of last year, the National Bureau of Statistics said yesterday.
Urban consumer prices rose 0.2 percent, while that in rural areas grew 1.1 percent, the bureau said.
For the first seven months, the consumer price index (CPI), the key inflation gauge for policy-makers, rose a year-on-year 0.6 percent.
Overall food prices rose a year-on-year 1 percent in July, while clothing prices fell 2 percent.
Healthcare prices rose 1.7 percent, and Chinese medicine prices rose 7.9 percent.
Qi Jingmei, a senior economist with the State Information Centre, said the CPI is still in a positive area, which suggests the country's economy has turned for the better.
The CPI situation suggested that the booming local and overseas demand helped balance overall supply and demand, Qi said.
Wang Zhao, a researcher at the Development Research Centre under the State Council, said the CPI rise was partly due to the higher oil prices on the international market.
The central bank's move to boost money supplies in the past several months also contributed to the price rise.
The central bank has said it would boost both broad money supply (M2) and narrower money supply (M1) figures by 16 percent this year.
M2 was up 20.7 percent at the end of July from a year earlier and M1 was up 20 percent.
"The price rise was a piece of good news for China's economic development, because the price decline could threaten corporate earnings," Wang said.
Wang and Qi agreed the CPI will continue to remain in a positive area in the coming months.
"The national economy will continue to grow at a higher rate this year, which will play an active role in the rise of prices," Qi said.
The strong growth of industrial production will also continue, because of the country's fast growing economy, the improvement of industrial companies' economic efficiency and excellent export prospects.
"There will be significant demand for a lot of energy and raw materials, which are beneficial for the price rise," she said.
But Wang said the commodity price could not grow by a large margin, because of a number of in-depth reasons.
"No China-made products falls short of supply," he said.
Also, there were no major factors which could drive the CPI further, besides the possibilities that the government may raise the price of electricity in the second half of this year, Qi said.
(China Daily August 14, 2003)