China Battles Brush Fires, Extends Power Rationing Due To Drought
Brush fires have forced the evacuation of more than 1,500 people in southwest China while power rationing for factories has been extended as weeks of record heat and drought batter the region.
Photo Insert: Chinese firefighters march off to battle against the brush fires caused by the extreme drought.
Shopping malls in Chongqing have been ordered closed for most of the day to reduce electricity demand, state broadcaster CCTV said, limiting opening hours to 4 to 9 p.m., the Associated Press (AP) reported.
State media say the government will try to protect the autumn grain harvest, which is 75% of China’s annual total, by shooting chemicals into clouds to try to generate rain.
The disruption adds to challenges for the ruling Communist Party, which is trying to shore up sagging economic growth before a meeting this fall at which President Xi Jinping is expected to be given a third five-year term as party leader.
There was no public announcement of the extension of power rationing in Sichuan province into a second week, but it was detailed in a company statement and a government notice to companies that were reported by Chinese news outlets.
Factories in Sichuan that make processor chips, solar panels, auto components, and other industrial goods were required to shut down or reduce activity last week to conserve power for homes as air conditioning demand surged in temperatures as high as 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit).
Air conditioning, elevators and lights were shut off in offices and shopping malls.
In Shanghai, a factory and shipping hub on China’s east coast, Tesla and a major state-owned automaker suspended production last week due to the disruption in supplies of components from Sichuan, the Shanghai city government said.
With 94 million people, Sichuan is especially hard-hit because it gets 80% of its power from hydroelectric dams. Other provinces rely more on coal-fired power, which isn’t affected. Economists say if Sichuan reopens relatively soon, the national impact should be limited because the province accounts for only 4% of China’s industrial output.