China Electricity Outages

This article is about how and why the Chinese government shut down electricity in many regions as well as the impact it has on people’s lives.

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Though China has been experiencing electricity outages since the beginning of 2021, it wasn’t until the government began to cut down on electricity for residents in Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning Provinces on 23rd September 2021 without any announcement in advance that it began to attract wide attention. 

In-person students were stuck in elevators in the morning, while remote ones cannot take classes at all due to the lack of wifi service. People in hospitals could not have operations and were waiting anxiously. In rural areas, the elders even lit up candles at night. The power shutdown has also poisoned 3 residents living in their apartment due to carbon monoxide. 

Lichun Qiao

Other provinces are luckier since the power outage is only meant for factories rather than residents. Since those factories gain lots of profit from September to October, the action of cutting electricity has also caused complaints among them. Many managers complain that the government is sacrificing them for “the greater good,” namely to achieve carbon neutrality. translation by Declan Mazur

In the 1970s to 1980s, electricity outages were quite common in China as electricity production could not keep up with cities and factories’ development. When electricity production was finally able to keep up in the way of burning large amounts of coal, its polluting side begin to cause wide attention with people’s rising awareness of global warming. 

Though the Chinese government has been stating in their official media that they have planned to shift energy sources from burning coal to clean ones such as wind energy and atomic energy, it is evident that they have not done so yet. The share of burning coal in generating electricity is still large, as it is not easy for large factories to shift ways of production and residents to shift ways of using energy in a comparatively short time. To show that they are saving power for reaching carbon neutrality, certain factories are forced to shut down just when they are going to enlarge their production by the end of the year, which revealed the lack of planning for some local governments. 

With the price of coal rising faster than ever and production factories enlarging their markets during the Covid-19 pandemic, electricity factories are in huge debt as they are required to produce more electricity but they cannot raise the price for it, as required by the Chinese government. In this situation, the government chooses to cut down power mainly for rural areas and underdeveloped cities, which is one of the reasons why there are migrations from rural areas to large cities and further reveals that it is very common for a country with different regions not to have equal access to resources. 


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