The heat does not subside. Many major cities recorded their hottest days on record, with maximum temperatures of 45 ºC in the south-west. Since August 1, reports show that more than 200 weather stations located in Zhejiang (east), Chongqing (central), Sichuan (central) and Shaanxi (central) have recorded temperatures above 40°C.
Many provinces are so hot that they restrict energy use for some industries. In Chongqing, authorities have restricted the use of decorative lights on public transport and streets.
In terms of drought, the declining level of the Yangtze River, China’s longest and the country’s main source of drinking water, is of particular concern. Since July, rainfall along the river has been 40% below the same period last year, the lowest since 1961.
Professor Carlos Aquino, coordinator of the Center for Asian Studies (CEAS) of the National University of San Marcos, thinks the situation is very serious. Extreme heat and drought are causing crops to wither, river beds to shrink, and movement of goods to a standstill.
“The problem is concentrated along the Yangtze River, which irrigates practically one-fifth of all Chinese territory. 70% of Chinese agriculture relies on the Yangtze River. Reports say that the river’s level is now the lowest since 1865, making it the most extreme. Not only that, the Yangtze River is like a major artery to China and the low water level prevents ships from plying.”, he tells El Comercio.
Drought combined with high temperatures make for a dangerous combination, he adds. “In some areas, the heat is the hottest in 60 years. There is no water, and the heat is unbearable on top of that”, he points out.
A blow to agriculture and economy
The described problems are detrimental to agriculture. Drought is particularly negative for rice and soybean crops, which require a lot of water. Alarms have been set off as this could be affected as the harvest season approaches in two months.
Last Tuesday, four Chinese government departments issued a statement in which they urged action to protect crops and ensure that “every unit of water is used carefully.”
“Heat and drought obviously affect agriculture. But even now economic activity has already been affected, with shopping malls in Chongqing operating from 4 to 9 p.m. and closed during the day due to lack of electricity or air conditioning, which is already causing disruptions to shipping. In production activities, in commerce, in everyday life”, explains Aquinas.
China has been in the heat for nearly a month, and the crisis has worsened in recent days, leading to power outages and problems in transportation, manufacturing, trade and other sectors.
Added to this is Covid-19. There was an explosion in Chongqing city a week ago and they have practically locked down the citizens to evacuate them.
For this reason, China is experiencing an uncertain panorama at the economic level. “In January this year, Chinese officials forecast 5.5% annual growth, and the only thing they’ve said so far is that it looks very difficult to achieve.”, Aquinas recalled.
He adds that last Tuesday the central bank cut interest rates for the third time this year and the International Monetary Fund a few weeks ago issued a forecast that China would grow by only 3.3%. “What is happening in China right now is very complicated“, assumes.
An advantage for China is that it does not need to import large quantities of food. According to data from the US Department of Agriculture, the Asian country has nearly 70% of all the world’s corn reserves, nearly 70% of all the world’s rice reserves, nearly 50% of all the world’s wheat reserves, and nearly 35% of all the world’s wheat reserves. All soybean reserves in the world.
“And China imported 10 billion dollars in 2005, and in 2020 it imported 100 billion worth of food, so with enough reserves to last another year or two, they seem prepared for the current crisis. In the short term, I don’t think food prices will go up in China because of the large stockpiles of food.Dice Aquino.
Make it rain
Concerned about water shortages, China has begun intensifying artificial rainfall by launching projectiles loaded with silver iodide into the sky, according to CCTV footage from public television.
Journal reports indicate that various meteorological departments in Hubei and Hunan provinces use “cloud chasers” as planes shoot special objects into the sky to seed clouds and rain.
Spanish newspapervanguard” Rains in Hubei city on August 17 relieved the high temperatures and drought that plagued the region. “‘Cloud chasers’ in Xian’an County had to carry rockets more than 500 kilometers to produce this rainfall.“, explain.
“China is using technology to prevent the situation from worsening. China has already used artificial rain, and it has experimented with this type of thing at a targeted level, but now it is doing it on a larger scale and it will continue to do so,” says Aquino.
Although the emergency lasts, there are already signs that the heat has started to ease. The China Meteorological Administration has predicted that temperatures will drop along the south bank of the Yangtze and parts of Sichuan, especially from August 26, although intense heat will persist in the east of the province and Chongqing.
“If it looks like a cold wave may arrive from the north towards the end of the month, this will lower the temperature, which will, among other things, reduce the huge cost of using air conditioning and allow factories and shops. Open. In any case, this critical situation will not end until the end of summer, which should happen in a month if it happens every year.Aquinas concludes.
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