China will scrap telecommunication price controls starting from Saturday to reduce government interference and make the economy more market-oriented.
Taking advantage of market forces will facilitate more competition, lower prices and increase efficiency, said a statement on the website of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom have been locked in a fierce fight for customers, but their prices are seen as exorbitant compared to other markets. A comparison of China Mobile's prices on the mainland with Hong Kong provoked popular discontent last month, and mainlanders complained they were paying much more for almost identical services. Existing price controls apparently do not help, and their abolition should leave more room for price cuts, in theory.
The National Development and Reform Commission scrapped retail price caps on 280 western medicines and 250 Chinese patent drugs on Thursday. The cap existed to make sure the remedies were affordable, but over the years many of these drugs have vanished from the shelves as pharmaceutical companies cut production.
Last month non-state medical institutions were allowed to set their own prices, and market prices for energy are on the way. Price controls were meant to ensure affordability for consumers, especially those on low incomes.
In terms of increasing efficiency and for practical reasons in the above-mentioned sectors, steering price setting from government to market is a welcome act.