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China’s Sanction of Australian Coal Backfires; Result: Electricity Shortage

China’s boycott of imported coal from Australia has affected many domestic industries. In order to save on coal consumption, places including Zhejiang and Hunan provinces have implemented restrictive measures on electricity usage.

Some netizens posted that they received messages that Yiwu city of Zhejiang province has started power rationing and blackouts. Small businesses and workshops in Yiwu have had their power cut off.

A trading company employee told Radio Free Asia that the electricity rationing measures have affected people’s lives: “Zhejiang is now rationing electricity of all enterprises and government entities. Despite the cold weather, it has been ordered to keep the heaters off until the indoor temperature is below 3 degrees Celsius. … It is probably because of Australian coal. Heaters do not consume lot of electricity, as not many Chinese people use heaters in the winter.”

Another netizen posted a message that in some cities in Zhejiang and Hunan, the traffic lights were turned off in the later part of the night.

The Hunan Provincial government recently issued a notice stating that the daily electricity consumption time slots are from 10:30 am to 12:00 pm and 16:30 pm to 20:30 pm. During these time slots, the landscape lighting in the province will be turned off and street lights will be dimmed. Communist Party and government office buildings will turn off the power on weekends. The situation may last until the 2021 Chinese New Year in February. No reason was specified for the power rationing.

Most export-oriented factories in Zhejiang province have received the “power cut and production reduction” notice. A supplier in Wenzhou city posted a notice showing that between December 15 and 31, high energy consumption enterprises are required to implement electricity rationing. During this period, the authorities will conduct 24-hour surveillance of the electricity consumption for production use. Factories that fail to follow the regulation will be forced to cut off their power and stop production for 20 days.

Australia is a major source of China’s coal imports.

Source: Radio Free Asia, December 16, 2020