“He has to deal with economic growth, economic structures, employment and the environment,” said Philip Andrews-Speed, Senior Principal Fellow at the Energy Studies Institute at the National University of Singapore, of Mr. Xi.
Some of the current difficulties can also be self-inflicted.
The coastal areas of China depend on imported coal, including from Australia. Relations between the two countries have fallen into free fall this year, however, as Australia, among other things, has called for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus, which first emerged in China. China, in turn, has banned the import of Australian coal and has stranded huge ships at sea.
Chinese officials have denied that the Australian coal ban is responsible for the current energy shortage, finding that less than 8 percent of China’s coal consumption was imported coal in 2018. Much of Australia’s coal is also used for steel and other metals, not electricity. But the government has, with rare dullness, also recognized the extent of the problem.
“At the moment some provinces do not have enough electricity. This is an objective fact, “said one of the most powerful agencies in the national government that oversees state-owned companies on Sunday.
The reports of bottlenecks and restrictions surfaced earlier this month. On December 4, officials in Hunan announced that monthly electricity demand had increased by double digits compared to the previous year and that grid capacity would soon exceed. The shortage would last into spring, they added.
In response, authorities ordered residents to start rationing energy. Every day between 10:30 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. and between 4:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., the lighting on most building facades and billboards must be switched off according to the order. Office buildings have no electricity on weekends. Residents were also told not to use electric stoves or ovens.