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Beijing Heatwave Puts City on Red Alert Amid Food Supply Fears

The capital had never, until this week, seen two consecutive days above 40C since its local weather station was established in 1951

A woman walks with cold patches on her forehead and neck amid a red alert for heatwave in Beijing, China June 23, 2023. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang
A woman walks with cold patches on her forehead and neck amid a red alert for a heatwave in Beijing, China, on June 23, 2023. Photo: Reuters


Temperatures in the Chinese capital of Beijing are forecast to pass 40 degrees Celsius (104F) for a third consecutive day, with analysts warning about drought and the possible impact on food supplies.

Parts of Hebei, Henan, Shandong, Inner Mongolia, Tianjin and Beijing have either raised or kept their hot weather alert at “red”, the highest in China’s four-tier warning system.

As of 1:13pm (0513 GMT), a combined area the size of California – or 450,000 sq km (174,000 sq miles) – had recorded temperatures of over 37C, according to local media.

In Beijing between 1990 and 2020, the average number of days with temperatures of 35C or more was 10.6, the official Beijing Daily reported, citing official data.


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June is not yet over and that number has already been beaten, the newspaper said, after temperatures in Beijing surpassed 35C for the 11th day this year on Saturday.

“Last year’s heatwave gives some sense of the risks to China’s food supply and the potential impact on prices,” Capital Economics wrote in a note on Friday.

“Another drought would hurt crop yields while livestock are vulnerable to high temperatures. Even if a similar outcome is avoided this year, climate change means such events are likely to happen with increasing frequency in future.”

On Friday, Beijing baked in temperatures as high as 40.3C, after sizzling at 41.1C on Thursday, the second-hottest day recorded by the Chinese capital in modern times.

Until this week, the city of nearly 22 million people had never logged two consecutive days above 40C since setting up its main observatory in the southern suburbs in 1951.

Beijing’s all-time high of 41.9C recorded on July 24, 1999, remains intact for now.

On Friday, Beijing authorities said schools can reduce or even suspend classes if the weather becomes very hot.

The heatwaves in northern China are expected to abate by Monday before regaining strength later in the week.


  • Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara


Read more:

Beijing Bakes in Record 41C Heatwave, Halting Outdoor Work

Asia Rocked by More Record Heat in May as Climate Woes Rise

New Record Temperatures in Vietnam, Laos, Bangkok – CNN

Deaths, Health Crisis as Severe Heatwave Rocks Asia – Guardian

China’s Temperature Rise Threatens Water, Ecosystems, Crops



Sean O'Meara

Sean O'Meara is an Editor at Asia Financial. He has been a newspaper man for more than 30 years, working at local, regional and national titles in the UK as a writer, sub-editor, page designer and print editor. A football, cricket and rugby fan, he has a particular interest in sports finance.


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