Bitter Winter Blast Hits South China Hard
By Paul Homewood
Clockwise from top: Workers remove ice from a cable in Weining county, Guizhou province. South China was hit by cold weather in early January, with the average price of vegetables rising continuously for 10 weeks. Residents try to clear ice from the street in Chenzhou, Hunan province.
China Daily report
Cold snaps in southern China have triggered rising vegetable prices, disrupted transport and reignited debate over central heating….
China is experiencing its coldest winter in 28 years, with the average national temperature remaining at – 3.8 C since November 2012, which is 1.3 degrees lower than normal for this period, according to sources from the China Meteorological Administration….
Guangdong province has been hit by a series of cold spells since December, with the north of the province experiencing severe frost. Crops were badly damaged, with more than 20,000 hectares affected, causing direct economic losses of more than 93 million yuan.
In the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, more than 54,000 hectares of crops in 12 cities had been affected by frost up to Jan 10, including 41,000 hectares of sugar cane that is certain to see decreased yield, according to sources from the local agriculture bureau.
Farmers are racing against time to harvest sugar cane, with sugar companies working flat out to limit their losses.
The severe weather has also caused vegetable prices to rise in the south. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the average price of 28 kinds of vegetables reached 4.25 yuan per kilogram on Jan 8 and has risen continuously for 10 weeks.
Since October, prices, especially for leaf vegetables, have risen by 50 percent at the biggest vegetable retail market in Shouguang, Shandong province. The increases look set to continue to Spring Festival, which starts on Feb 10.
Local governments have relocated more than 5,000 people in 24 counties to avoid possible risks, and have also set up 68 rescue stations to offer relief, including food and clothing to those in need.
The lingering cold weather has caused direct economic losses estimated at more than 77.76 million yuan, mainly in the agricultural sector, Xinhua News Agency quoted provincial civil affairs authorities as saying.
The central government has stepped in, with the Ministry of Civil Affairs sending 2,000 tents and 40,000 sheets and coats to help people suffering from severe cold in Jiangxi, Hunan and Guizhou provinces and the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.
And the ministries of Civil Affairs and Finance have earmarked 6.8 billion yuan for a relief fund to help disaster-stricken victims with food, clothing, heating and other basic needs for winter and spring. The first batch of the fund – 5.44 billion yuan – was allocated on Dec 4.
But remember, this is only weather, unlike a few days of summer in Australia.