Beijing, China (CNN) - I had thought China's situation was significantly different from the Middle East because the government has been successful in bringing better living standards to the people here. You would think that would make Beijing feel less vulnerable. But perhaps all authoritarian regimes react the same.
My crew and I went out Sunday afternoon to see if there was going to be a public response to anonymous calls on the Internet to stage protests and begin a Tunisia-style "Jasmine Revolution" in China. When we arrived at the shopping district Wangfujing, the designated protest location, hundreds of uniformed and plain clothes police patrolled the area. We waited to see if any protesters would show up. But after half an hour, there was no obvious demonstration.
We started shooting a short report and within minutes the police descended upon us. My cameraman was led away. My producer, Jo Kent, started filming me with a small camera when a plain clothes policeman batted it out of her hand. He and several other officers started shoving us around. Three bulky men grabbed my petite female producer. Three more nabbed me, holding my arms tight. We offered to walk on our own but the officers pushed, at times lifting us off the ground, before dragging us to a bank branch where police were already detaining other journalists.
Hong Kong, China (CNN) - The Mideast turmoil has oil prices hovering near $100 a barrel again. For Asian economies, an extended period of high oil prices could have a number of knock-on effects, including hurting oil-dependent industries like autos and construction, and depressing exports to the U.S. and Europe.
The real danger though may lie in single word: inflation.
Economies from China to Vietnam to India are already struggling to contain rising consumer prices, especially for staple foods like corn and onions. These costs hit many of society's poorest families, as they struggle to meet basic food and energy costs. They are also taxing government balance sheets, with food and energy subsidies still common place in this part of the world.
In a research note HSBC described the combination of high food prices, gaining core prices, labor tightness and the oil shock "a lethal brew."
The rising cost of food can have a dramatic impact on your next vacation. CNN's Felicia Taylor reports.
If you are poor, one of the cheapest nutritious fast foods you can buy is a “vetkoek” or “magwenya” from a makeshift shop on a Johannesburg pavement.
Magwenya resemble donuts and make for a filling breakfast for thousands of South Africans, who buy them outside taxi ranks and train stations.
These days, however, even vetkoek are becoming pricier. Food inflation has started to hit southern Africa, belatedly. Prices last year were relatively low compared to the global average because local harvests and supply conditions were more favorable than normal. Now, economists warn people living in sub-Saharan Africa to brace for food price shocks.
The cost of one vetkoek is now one Rand; that’s only about 13 U.S. cents but it’s double the price from 2008, when I took a mini-poll among vetkoek sellers during another bout of price shocks.
Oil, flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and sometimes mince, are the ingredients in vetkoek. Most of these foodstuffs will average a 10-12% increase over the year, says one business leader in the food industry.
Cooking oil prices are due to really soar, and further impact the cost of vetkoek, because sunflower seed prices were reportedly up more than 50% year on year.
All this means that the southern African poor will continue to spend most of their disposable income on basic food. Others will forgo little luxuries.
And if prices rise to the high levels that economists predict they will there is the expectation that many more people will be hungry this coming winter.
So my questions are: Do you think food security is one of the most pressing global concerns? What are the solutions? Are you already feeling the pinch of high food prices?
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