China’s economy, already hammered by Covid-19 lockdowns, rising prices, disrupted supply chains and weakening consumer demand, faces a new threat: extreme weather.
Heavy flooding that has battered southern and eastern provinces is likely to continue in July and August, according to a government official.
Meanwhile, drought conditions are also exacerbating problems.
“At present, drought has emerged in some parts of northern China and developed rapidly, mainly concentrated in Inner Mongolia, Henan, Shaanxi, Gansu and other provinces and regions,” said Yao Wenguang, director of the Department of Flood and Drought Disaster Prevention at the Ministry of Water Resources.
Shandong, Henan and Hebei provinces have faced scorching heatwaves, pressuring the national power grid.
“It is predicted that from July to August, there will be more extreme weather events in China, and regional flood conditions and drought conditions will be heavier than usual,” Yao added.
Images on social media, from cars trapped underwater to emergency rescues in floating rafts, reveal widespread calamity in the country. A video of a home collapsing into a river in southern China recently went viral on TikTok.
“From late May to mid-June, there were seven consecutive heavy rainfall processes in the Pearl River Basin, with relatively concentrated and overlapping rain areas, heavy rain intensity and heavy cumulative rainfall,” Yao said.
And with drought also developing in four provinces and regions, the Ministry of Water Resources launched an emergency response on June 25, sending three working groups to stricken areas in Inner Mongolia, Shaanxi and Gansu to help with measures to counter the lack of water.
Extreme weather events are making headlines across the globe, with flooding in India and Bangladesh and heatwaves in South Asia, Europe and the United States. Many scientists and experts point to climate change as the culprit.
- Reuters, with additional editing by George Russell