|A Chinese lawyer has accused the China Branch of World Instant Noodle Association of being an illegal non-governmental organization due to its not having registered with China's Ministry of Civil Affairs, Yanzhao Evening News reported on Wednesday.
The lawyer, Hao Jiguang, from northern Hebei province, Tuesday formally rendered an appeal to the Ministry of Civil Affairs, demanding an immediate and responsible investigation into the legitimacy of the branch, which has recently maneuvered a joint yet controversial 20 percent price rise of instant noodle products around the country.
Hao's appeal came after he received an affirmation on Monday from the management bureau of non-governmental organizations under the Ministry of Civil Affairs that the Chinese branch is not a legally registered body. His appeal has not received a response yet.
Following his appeal, the Chinese lawyer said he believes that the Chinese Branch of World Instant Noodle Association and some leading domestic instant noodle makers are very much suspected of manipulating prices. He has also appealed to China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) to impose punishments on those found to be operating as an illegal cartel.
Earlier, Beijing lawyer Qiu Baochang also asked the NDRC to investigate the legitimacy of the recent price rise in instant noodles.
Meng Suhe, an official with the Chinese branch of the World Instant Noodle Association argued, however, that instant noodles' retail price rise was the result of the increased cost of raw materials - principally palm oil - which has jumped from 4,200 yuan per ton to 8,000 yuan per ton.
Low-end instant noodles cost only one yuan (13 U.S. cents) per packet before the price hike.