Beijing: The southwestern Chinese provincial capital is dimming outdoor billboards, subway lights and building signs to save energy, according to an official statement. ), spurring demand for air conditioning in regions that rely on dams for most of their electricity and depleting reservoirs.

Factories in the provincial capital Chengdu, including a joint venture with Japanese automaker Toyota, have been forced to shut down, while millions of people in Dazhou, another city, are grappling with gradual power outages. “The hot and muggy weather is pushing the limits of the city’s electricity supply for production and daily life,” Chengdu’s city management authority said in a social media notice on Thursday.

Facing the “most dire situation”, the city of more than 20 million people was ordered to turn off landscape lights and outdoor advertising lights in a notice issued on Tuesday, the statement said. Even the building signs are dark. Chengdu Metro said in a video on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform, that it would turn off advertising lights and “optimize” station temperatures to save energy.

Photos circulating on Weibo showed dimly lit subway platforms, aisles and shopping malls, with commuters walking in partial darkness. The scorching heat has also dried up the vital Yangtze River, with trunk water levels down about 50% from their average over the past five years, state media China News Service reported Thursday.

Sichuan’s power problem could have ripple effects throughout the Chinese economy. Sichuan is an important supplier of hydroelectric energy to industrial powerhouses in the east, including Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces.China has been battling extreme weather on several fronts, killing 23 people. Eight people are missing.

The eastern Jiangsu meteorological authority warned drivers of the risk of tire punctures on Friday as surface temperatures on some roads were poised to reach 68 degrees Celsius. The China Meteorological Administration earlier said it was the country’s longest hot spell since records began in 1961. Scientists say climate change is making extreme weather events more frequent around the world, and urgent global cooperation is needed to delay impending extreme weather events. disaster.

The two largest greenhouse gas emitters in the world are the United States and China. But this month, Beijing announced it would freeze cooperation with Washington on global warming in protest of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.

Meanwhile, Chinese regulators on Friday offered to repay more customers of rural banks whose withdrawals were frozen. It has been hit hard by Beijing’s efforts to curb a property bubble and soaring debt, amid the financial crackdown it has brought. His four banks in Henan province froze his cash withdrawals in mid-April. As regulators cracked down on mismanagement, locking hundreds of thousands of customers out of their funds and sparking sporadic protests.

The state banking regulator said in mid-July that individual customers with deposits of up to 50,000 yuan ($7,341) would get their money back after one of the largest protests turned into riots. The authorities have been gradually offering repayments to more customers with higher-value deposits. On Friday, Henan’s banking and insurance regulator pledged to repay people who made deposits of 350,000 to 400,000 yuan ($51,300 to $58,600), with the group starting to receive them on Aug. 22. said in a statement.

The statement added that “repayments of (deposit amount) less than 350,000 will continue to be paid,” suggesting that not all customers with low bank balances have yet received their money. The four banks and another local bank in nearby Anhui province have been identified as involved in a scheme to defraud investors, and a police investigation has been launched. The Henan banking scandal has dealt an unprecedented blow to public confidence in China’s financial system because of the scale and scale of the fraud, analysts say.

With the ruling Communist Party’s major convention just months away, Chinese officials are desperate to avoid destabilizing society. A large demonstration in Zhengzhou, capital of Henan province, on July 10 saw demonstrators forced into buses by police, according to eyewitness accounts provided to AFP and photos confirmed on social media. , beaten and violently subdued. – AFP

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