China rationing electricity with heat wave that led to the suspension of factories

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BEIJING – China’s worst heat wave in six decades has deepened the heat wave Economic pain From the pandemic lockdowns, authorities this week ordered factories to suspend production in several key manufacturing areas to conserve electricity.

Sichuan Province, home to more than 80 million people, announced Monday that factories in 19 cities and counties will halt operations until Saturday to provide electricity for “people’s use.” It also ordered other regions in southern China to prioritize electricity to operate air conditioners.

The suspension of factories reflects how climate change is intensifying China’s economic challenges. Officials have warned that the country is likely to miss its 5.5 percent growth target for this year, as coronavirus shutdowns disrupt trade and normal life.

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On Tuesday, Jin Xiandong, a spokesman for the National Development and Reform Commission, said China had to rely more on coal for power generation because the heat wave and drought were Significantly reduce hydropower production.

Extreme heat waves such as this summer are expected to become increasingly common in China as climate change worsens. There are 11 counties that currently have warnings for temperatures above 104 degrees Fahrenheit. The autonomous city of Chongqing, which is surrounded by Sichuan province, hit a record high of 112.1 degrees over the weekend, with temperatures expected to continue above 104 degrees for another week.

China, the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide, has sought to present itself as a global leader in climate action, touting its shift toward electric cars and other measures. But the country continued to build new coal-fired power plants. This month, Beijing suspended Bilateral climate talks with the United States in response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.

Dangerously high temperatures have left the world struggling this summer, as the dry heat rages fires In Britain, a shutdown of the power grid In Iraq, more than 1,000 deaths in Portugal. President Biden last month Call Climate change is an “emergency”.

The inland province of Sichuan in China has become an international industrial center in recent years due to lower production costs compared to coastal areas. The region produces and exports items including electronics, furniture, and food. State media reported that Sichuan recorded the highest electricity consumption in a single month ever in July.

With the production halt suddenly taking effect on Monday, factories were scrambling to see the financial implications.

Tongwei Solar, the largest producer of crystalline silicon solar cells, has experienced outages at its three production bases in Sichuan, the company’s public relations officer told The Washington Post by phone, declining to be named.

Now we are cooperating with relevant government departments to adjust energy consumption in an orderly manner And they’re still evaluating specific effects.”

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Foxconn, a major Apple assembler, told the China Securities Journal that “the impact will not be significant on the company’s operations.” Foxconn produces some Apple products, such as iPads and Macs, in Sichuan.

A fertilizer plant in Sichuan, Lutianhua, issued a notice on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange on Monday, saying it expected to make a net profit of $4.4 million due to the production halt.

Unrelenting high temperatures may continue until the end of the month, according to China’s National Meteorological Center.

China released its latest economic data, for the month of July, on Monday, which showed high unemployment and slowing economic recovery with the outbreak of the new Corona virus and heat wave. Youth unemployment rose to a record high of 19.9%.

High temperatures across the south have caused “negative effects on economic operations,” Fu Lingwei, a spokesman for China’s National Bureau of Statistics, said at a press conference on Monday. He also said the impact of the pandemic on businesses meant they weren’t able to offer as many jobs to young people as before.

“The momentum of economic recovery has slowed marginally, and the basis for promoting economic recovery still needs to be strengthened,” Fu said.

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Confirming Beijing’s concerns about the economy, China’s central bank unexpectedly Reducing the prime lending rate this week.

The country’s leaders had been hoping for a stronger economic performance this year, ahead of an important Chinese Communist Party conference in the fall, where leader Xi Jinping is widely expected to break the precedent by staying in office for a third term. But Xi has made clear in recent months that he will not lift the “no virus spread” policy despite the costs.

With foreign tourism still largely halted, Beijing has encouraged families to take local holidays during the summer to support consumption. But the sharp rise in travel has led to an outbreak of the Corona virus across the country, leading to the closure of some holiday destinations such as Sanya Beach Resortthe capital of Xinjiang is Urumqi and parts of Tibet.

China’s policy of placing any close contacts with a COVID-19 patient in quarantine also continues to disrupt daily life. Videos of shoppers fleeing an IKEA store in Shanghai It was widely shared Over the weekend, after it was announced that those on site would be forced into quarantine because close contact with a Covid patient had visited the store.

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