Australian Coal Sanction Increased Power Shortages in China

Some Chinese netizens are blaming an increasingly widespread power shortage on Beijing’s Australian coal sanctions. Large-scale electricity and water cutoffs are already taking their toll.

Chinese authorities cut electricity to at least four cities in China’s Guangdong province on Monday morning. Residents and businesses were not notified ahead of time.

The sudden shut-off disrupted cell phone network signals and caused problems for hospitals, schools, and residential areas.

A netizen said that some people were in the middle of showering when suddenly the water just stopped. Some were inside elevators, which they got stuck inside. Some lost digital files when computers shut down.

The forced power cuts impacted major cities like Guangzhou and Shenzhen, among others. Guangzhou is China’s third-largest city and is home to 13 million residents. Shenzhen is one of the county’s largest manufacturing cities.

One Shenzhen resident told us that unannounced outages are actually a common occurrence in Shenzhen.

“Some factories, or large power-consuming factories, are required not to work during the day. They take turns, some are not allowed to work at night. They call it ‘rationed use of electricity,'” said Mr. Cheng, a Shenzhen resident.

Officials also announced electricity rationing for other provinces. Earlier this month, notices explained that a threshold for power use had been reached and there wasn’t enough to go around.

Provinces like Hunan and Zhejiang received the notices, among others. Residents also reported factories and businesses were shut down and traffic lights turned off.

Some blame the deficiency in power on Russia’s recent decision to restrict electricity exports to China. Russia reportedly reduced power exports by some 3 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity to China.

One Zhejiang resident says he suspects the shortage of power is due to Beijing’s sanctions on Australian coal imports.


“Australian coal entered China and was detained by customs. It hasn’t been able to pass the customs. This will cause the price of coal in China to rise, and in extension affect the power supply,” said Mr. Wei, a Zhejiang resident.

Six months ago, Beijing started blocking Australian coal from entering its ports. Over $700 million worth of Australian coal has been sitting aboard ships along China’s coast.