From our regional correspondent
“In Sichuan summers are usually very hot, but this year we are living in hell”, says on the phone Nathalie Wu, 40, an e-commerce salesperson in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province. In Sichuanese memory, it has never been so hot in August: more than 40 degrees and, with maximum humidity, the feeling is close to 50 degrees. “In addition, the government has cut off electricity for factories and businesses in the region for a weekshe adds, and the economy will suffer even more. » For Natalie “the future is worrying, the planet is dying”.
China’s Meteorological Administration said the country was experiencing its longest period of high temperatures since 1961, when temperature records began, with 64 consecutive days of heat warnings in different regions since June. Several major cities have recorded the hottest days in their history and the national observatory renewed, on Wednesday August 17, the red alert for high temperatures, the highest in its four-level system. “I don’t leave my house anymore”assures Zhou Du, a 70-year-old Shanghainese retiree. “It’s no longer because of the Covid, he laughs, but because of the sweltering heat that could leave me dead on the sidewalk. »
Temperatures in the large and populous province of Sichuan (90 million people) are causing high demand for electric air conditioning systems. At the same time, Sichuan, a neighbor of the mountains of Tibet, is 80% dependent on hydraulic dams to produce its electricity. However, the rivers in the region have dried up and the reservoirs too, according to the authorities.
According to a local power company, the industrial city of Dazhou (in northern Sichuan), which has a population of 5.4 million, is intermittently supplied with electricity. Interruptions of three hours and even more if necessary are planned. Of the 21 “big cities” in the province, 19 have been called upon to suspend their industrial production until Saturday, according to a notice published on Sunday August 14 and relayed by the official media.
Toyota has stopped production in Chengdu since the beginning of the week, in accordance with “authority guidelines”, said a spokeswoman to Agence France-Presse, without wanting to specify the financial consequences for the company. The world’s largest electric car battery maker, Contemporary Amperex Technology, has also ceased production in Yibin, according to local media. Sichuan is a key region for the manufacture of lithium, a metal present in electric batteries. “In Chengdu, the lights in the subway are dimmertestifies Nathalie Wu, just like in all in the huge malls where the escalators are stopped. » Very pessimistic about the future of her two children, she recalls that the family “still getting tested for Covid every other day, youth unemployment skyrocketing and there was a forest fire in Chongqing…” Concluding with a whisper: “I hope the emperor will not provoke war against our Taiwanese neighbors!” »