China Suffering Mass Blackouts Following Aussie Coal Embargo

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

h/t mwhite, GWPF; Millions of Chinese are suffering severe power supply problems, brownouts and blackouts. According to media reports the problems have been caused by fuel shortages, following Chinese President Xi Jinping’s embargo of Australian coal imports.

Beijing’s trade war with Australia spectacularly backfires as China is plagued by electricity woes plunging millions into darkness – after it refused delivery of $1billion of Aussie coal

  • Beijing blacklisted imports of Australian coal as part of the trade war last month 
  • Some 80 ships carrying $1.1b worth of coal are sitting off the Australian coast 
  • Coal prices have skyrocketed in China as domestic supply struggles to keep up
  • Now provincial governments are imposing restrictions on electricity usage
  • There are power outages and limits of heating and AC use during the cold winter 


PUBLISHED: 02:31 AEDT, 18 December 2020 | UPDATED: 12:06 AEDT, 18 December 2020

Millions of Chinese residents have been left without heating in the middle of winter as cities ration electricity amid a blockade on Australian coal. 

Australia provided 57 per cent of China‘s thermal coal imports in 2019, which is used to generate electricity in power stations. 

But last month, Beijing blocked Australian coal imports, which has resulted in 80 ships carrying more than $1.1billion in blacklisted cargo being stranded off the Chinese coast.  

Chinese coal prices were 500 yuan ($100) last month but increased 760 yuan ($153) per tonne on Wednesday, which has now resulted in restrictions on power use for millions of residents, according to South China Morning Post

Some 57 million people live in Zhejiang province, south of Shanghai, on China’s east coast, and have been besieged by power shortages resulting in electricity being shut off.

The Zhejiang provincial government has now ordered offices to only use heating when the temperature drops below 3C and restaurant to only use air conditioning for diners, rather than staff, in the city of Wenzhou from December 11 to 20. 

Small to medium sized factories have reportedly been ordered to halt production for one to two days after operating for two days between December 13 and 30. 

Read more:

The coal embargo appears to be Chinese retaliation for Australia’s support of US opposition to China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, and other alleged grievances. But so far the embargo appears to be hurting China more than Australia.

China’s central government claims there are no power shortages;

Spokeswoman Meng Wei said the current coal inventory was sufficient for 21 days of operation at power plants across the country and 31 days in northeastern Heilongjiang province – the coldest part of the country during winter.

“We have noticed coal prices have risen recently and that has caused widespread concern in society. However, current coal market supply and demand are generally balanced, and coal supply this winter and next spring is guaranteed,” Meng said.

Read more:

This is not the first time the Xi Jinping regime’s policies have caused catastrophic Chinese energy supply and home heating problems.

In 2018 Northern China suffered severe heating shortages in the middle of a bitterly cold winter, thanks to Xi Jinping decreeing that everyone should switch from coal to natural gas. Nobody checked whether there were sufficient gas supplies to service the converted heating appliances.

4.9 22 votes
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
December 18, 2020 10:20 pm

payback is a bitch and more especially so when it is self-inflicted.

December 18, 2020 10:44 pm

Lucky they have those 40GW of solar panels and 150GW of wind turbines to take up the slack.

Imagine how bad it would be if they stopped Australian coal imports before they had all the close-to-useful weather dependent generators.

Reply to  RickWill
December 18, 2020 11:04 pm

Exactly, that’s how we know that this is a fake news story. China doesn’t need coal, they have wind and solar to take care of all their energy needs.

Whoever wrote this fake news must have been one of those deplorable people.

Reply to  RickWill
December 19, 2020 1:05 am

and the lesson they’ll learn is if they had more of those, they’d need less foreign coal…

Reply to  griff
December 19, 2020 1:50 am

Obviously Griff is much better equipt than the current govt in China to understand how to manage a country of 4 Billion people and exploding energy needs. I’m surprised he hasn’t applied for the job.

John Endicott
Reply to  Greg
December 19, 2020 8:24 am

He already has a job, posting his misinformation here.

Reply to  Greg
December 19, 2020 6:28 pm

When did China add the 2+ billion people to bring their total population up to 4 billion? Just askin’.

Bryan A
Reply to  secryn
December 19, 2020 11:23 pm

Haven’t you heard…
The world is turning Chia-neese
I think they’re turning Chia-neese
I really think so

Climate believer
Reply to  griff
December 19, 2020 2:22 am

That’s a very typical Socialist response, it’s never the idea that’s wrong, it’s that we’re not doing enough of it.

Alan Millar
Reply to  Climate believer
December 19, 2020 10:54 am

Yes, when most scientists believed beyond any doubt that bleeding people was the way to treat maladies and injuries, anyone who pointed to all the dead bodies and queried the procedure was told ‘that is because we didn’t bleed them enough.’

Reply to  griff
December 19, 2020 2:39 am

griff HATES the Chinese people as well … of course.

Why do you want them to suffer UNRELIABILITY of electricity supply ?

What have they ever done to you that your own government isn’t also doing ?

Why are you so anti-human, and anti-life, griff ?

John Endicott
Reply to  fred250
December 19, 2020 8:26 am

no need for “the Chinese” or “as well” in your first sentence.

Reply to  griff
December 19, 2020 3:52 am

Only people like Griff would double down on stupid.

Reply to  Derg
December 20, 2020 12:10 pm

There appear to be a lot of people like that…

Reply to  griff
December 19, 2020 8:55 am

In griff’s world, wind turbines can produce power even when the wind isn’t blowing and solar panels work 24/7.

Reply to  griff
December 19, 2020 9:06 am

I’m trying to figure out if you’re being ironic.

Reply to  Kpar
December 19, 2020 9:54 am

Griff isn’t bright enough to do irony.

Crispin Pemberton-Pigott
Reply to  griff
December 19, 2020 7:06 pm

China does not normally operate its big western wind power in winter because they need the co-generated heat from coal fired power stations to supply heat to urban concentrations. Having “more of them” would not nearly compete in providing power for heating – the demand is simple too high.

Winter is when the most wind energy is available, but that doesn’t work magic. The wind/heat cannot go off for a couple of days – things would freeze irretrievably. Even when they idle industry, they have to keep some heat on to stop catastrophic losses from frozen pipes.

In January of 2018 the main power station in Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan) ran low on water because the indicator gauge line froze, stuck on “OK”. The boiler exploded and cut off power to the city (big problem for people using electric heating in apartments) and they had to shut off the district heating supply. It was a very serious problem because so many pipes froze. It has to be avoided at pretty much any cost on the scale it would happen in China.

Reply to  griff
December 19, 2020 9:41 pm

You are still swooning over intermittent power generation capabilities of Wind and Solar. It is a silly love affair you have over it, depending on something that is unreliable, are LOW MASS power suppliers.

Do you know that it gets cloudy a lot in the Winter and can have long periods of little to no wind during the winter?

Yup that is called generating (pun intended) energy poverty.

Climate believer
December 19, 2020 12:19 am

The Zhejiang provincial government has now ordered offices to only use heating when the temperature drops below 3C 

….and there’s the Green New Deal folks.

Reply to  Climate believer
December 19, 2020 5:49 am

Yeah, I want to see something like that coming from my own utilities. I really do. They can pay for my damaged plumbing. What a class action suit that could be…. 🙂

Loren C. Wilson
Reply to  Sara
December 19, 2020 6:59 am

This is crony capitalism. The power companies will be indemnified for any damages, including the deaths of people on oxygen machines, etc.

Reply to  Loren C. Wilson
December 19, 2020 9:00 am

Crony capitalism is the word socialists use to describe socialism in action.

Reply to  MarkW
December 19, 2020 9:26 am

Crony Capitalism is in reality Anti-Facism. Instead of the government allowing nominal private ownership but calling all of the shots, it is the corporate structures calling all of the shots and holding up the government as a paper front-man. Anyone remember the movie “Rollerball”?

Reply to  Fraizer
December 19, 2020 6:29 pm

Fraizer…. In fact, the difference between socialism and facism is little more than slogans and tokens. In each case, you have an unelected oligarchy controlling all systems of Production, Distribution and Exchange. The names of those NOMINALLY owning business and industry may vary, but they will do as they are bloody well told…. or it’s off the the Gulags.
Socialists love to talk about business controlling government but when the same people are making the decisions for both, the difference is one of pretence, not reality.

Reply to  Climate believer
December 19, 2020 9:00 pm

Thank you for posting in BLACK and BOLD. I can read it! This site now in gray small font is not readable

Carl Friis-Hansen
December 19, 2020 12:28 am

Without knowing much about it, I suppose China is in a difficult situation. Should the give in to territorial dispute for short term coal issues?
If this goes on for long, China could make contracts with South Africa instead.

paul courtney
Reply to  Carl Friis-Hansen
December 19, 2020 7:00 am

Mr. Friis-Hansen: Please resist the urge to post when your opening is, “[w]ithout knowing much about it….” First, who put China “in a difficult situation”? Putting aside your very delicate description of its own people freezing, did the folks in Oz refuse to sell coal to China, or did someone in China choose this? (hint- the article informs you) Did Oz force China to build coal power plants? Doesn’t take too much information to get that one. Tell us about the “territorial dispute,” did Oz build an island naval base in the disputed area?
Anyway, I’m sure the CCP is grateful for your help with alternate sources of coal to get them over this self-inflicted hump.

Reply to  paul courtney
December 19, 2020 9:09 am

In many African nations, dung is used as fuel. Maybe the ChiComs can get a deal on that…

Brian Johnston
December 19, 2020 12:46 am

China is about to find out.

  1. Wind turbines do not produce 50/60Hz energy. Only useless dirty harmonics.
  2. PV solar cannot power the grid.
Craig from Oz
December 19, 2020 1:05 am


Look, I despise China the nation for a lot of things, but when you basically tell people that 4 degs C is what you are going to have to live with now, cause… reasons, then people are going to die.

This is likely to lead to more deaths in China than Covid.

Reply to  Craig from Oz
December 19, 2020 1:17 am

True, but probably not as many as Mao starved to death (around 45m from memory)

Reply to  Hivemind
December 19, 2020 9:13 am

That’s what I was going to say, but some estimates of Mao’s “progress” run from 50 to 80 million (you must include both the “cultural revolution” and “The Great Leap Forward”).

Carl Friis-Hansen
Reply to  Craig from Oz
December 19, 2020 2:46 am

“This is likely to lead to more deaths in China than Covid.”

It will still be called Covid deaths though.
It is difficult to call it Coal deaths when coal is missing from the formula.
In the end is all due to Climate Change. (You know summer and winter)

Crispin Pemberton-Pigott
Reply to  Craig from Oz
December 19, 2020 7:10 pm

A paper I read (2013 I think) said that 11% of all deaths in China are attributable to chronic underheating. In a sense, the people are able to withstand sub-optimal heating and have ways to cope, but not so much in cities.

Pariah Dog
December 19, 2020 1:10 am

How long before those coal-laden ships are determined to be harbouring spies, taken into custody, and their cargo holds emptied in the search?

Reply to  Pariah Dog
December 19, 2020 4:32 am

….just off the coast of Australia? And China is refusing to pay, rather than Australia refusing to deliver.
Reading comprehension is nice.

Trying to Play Nice
Reply to  RockyRoad
December 19, 2020 5:28 am

If you had read the entire article you would have seen “But last month, Beijing blocked Australian coal imports, which has resulted in 80 ships carrying more than $1.1billion in blacklisted cargo being stranded off the Chinese coast.”

Reply to  Trying to Play Nice
December 19, 2020 9:06 am

The article refers to ships off both coasts. So, 160 ships in total with $2.2 billion of coal. Or 80 ships with the gift of bilocation.

Reply to  JOHN T. SHEA
December 19, 2020 8:30 pm

It’s dependent on payment terms, much of the stranded coal is owned by chinese sellers but it leaves the problem of the trapped boats and crew. There have been about 20 boatloads which were on the water redirected to new buyers in India and South East Asia.

December 19, 2020 1:58 am

I thought the china had massive solar/wind farms?

Reply to  Sunny
December 19, 2020 5:51 am

No, but they do have hectares of poisoned, polluted land near their factories.

Reply to  Sara
December 19, 2020 6:56 am

Good place to roll out solar

Bryan A
Reply to  Sunny
December 19, 2020 11:27 pm

Massive Solar wind farms producing miniscule quantities of electrons

Ron Long
December 19, 2020 2:24 am

What a happy story to start my day. Thanks.

Peta of Newark
December 19, 2020 2:54 am

We get these Colour-Deficient-Outs**

“”Roosting birds cause early evening power cut””

Here’s some near me and yes, the leccy does blink on & off while they’re about.

(A fairly clear indication that there are ‘Leatherjackets’ in the farmland soil – they looooove eating Leatherjackets)

Isn’t Nature wonderful? Seriously
Mind you, it is a ‘wonder’ where Climate Science evolved from

The Beeb reports only go to further show what a Land of Muppets we now all inhabit ##

The birds don’t go onto the wires to roost.
They go there to sing and then fly away somewhere else.
*Only* in Muppet-land can critters sing while they’re sleeping (roosting)

** Are we still allowed the word ‘balck’?
## We KNOW we can trust the Beeb, because they constantly tell us so AND, get most of their news from the Grauniad

Tom Abbott
December 19, 2020 5:32 am

This is one of the dumber things I have seen the Chicoms do. They cut off their energy supply before they secure a replacement. That’s something a DA politician in the West would do.

David Blenkinsop
Reply to  Tom Abbott
December 19, 2020 6:55 am

More weird from the Chicoms.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
December 19, 2020 9:59 am

Having been all over China many times during winter, I can assure you, they only heat up stuff when it is absolutely absolutely neccessary!
Nothing new in the +3C headlines!

I have routinely frozen in their hotels, their concert halls, their restaurants and many other places besides.
Concert reherasals were nightmares, dressed up in thick coats, gloves and hats…

In fact, in January just about the only comfortable places if you are unlucky enough to be anywhere north of semi tropical Shenzhen are going to be in their vast gargantuan new airports, and of course aboard the next airbus to another warmer part of China.

Coming back finally on a flight from PRC to a more civilised Moscow plied with large numbers of aspirin to control a horrible bout of flu, then given a (survival) jab by emergency staff in DME airport, I can say I quite likely would have ended up in an ICU had I stayed over there another few days (such were their near non existent PRC medical help also)….

if you somehow believe the Chinese are actually capable of acting unlike headless chickens go visit Harbin in winter.

There you can see “go use solar, or wind” as much as they like, but on the days I was there, the smog was so thick no solar would ever work, and an absence of wind, combined with the inevitable sub – siberian anticyclone would mean any attempt to move out of coal would entail most of the city freezing to death…
Idem many others!

when I see muppets like Griff writing twaddle, like he often does about the UK, I just say…

“listen sucker….just GO THERE” have fun, freeze, get hypothermia etc, then we’ll stick your coffin on the next fedex freight service back out of there from Bejing airport, when you’re done!

December 19, 2020 5:40 am

This is awesome news.. $1.1B worth of CO2 not showing up in the atmosphere, although it is a double edged sword. Less CO2 means even colder temperatures! Looks like China is finally doing the right thing to cut CO2 emissions. Must be because Biden got elected and they don’t want to get left behind in the climate fight.

Reply to  rbabcock
December 19, 2020 9:16 am

For those who downvoted this response.. you do know it was sarcasm? Or does Griff have multiple accounts?

December 19, 2020 5:46 am

The coal embargo appears to be Chinese retaliation for Australia’s support of US opposition to China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, and other alleged grievances. – article

I want to make sure I understand this: China is refusing to accept Australia’s coal because Xi JinPing has his undies in a bunch over the US disputing China’s “rights” to the South China Sea islands, so he’s punishing Australia for supporting the USA’s claim and his own people at the same time.

Yeah, that makes a WHOLE lot of sense.

WHAT A MARONE!!!!!! May he find his own heat and electricity cut off. Yes, I know: it will never happen, but he is such a jerk!!!!

Reply to  Sara
December 19, 2020 7:06 am

Thanks for giving the rationale, or the ir-rationale, behind such madness. This is why the government class loves socialism; they can do whatever they want and to hell with the people.

Reply to  Sara
December 19, 2020 8:37 am

I haven’t seen any boycotts of European goods. Oh yes, Europe is NOT supporting the US in freedom of navigation through the South China Sea. That would take backbone, something the EU does not have.

Reply to  Sara
December 19, 2020 9:53 am

I haven’t met yet a comunist party member that is not a jerk, in China or elsewhere. Xi is also irritated by Australia’s banning of Huawei’s 5G.

Reply to  Lrp
December 19, 2020 8:43 pm

He was more irritated by South park depicting him as Winnie the Pooh … poor old pooh bear is now banned in China 🙂

December 19, 2020 6:34 am

I thought that power from the 3 Gorges Dam was going to obviate much of China’s coal needs.

December 19, 2020 8:28 am

Maybe this explains the heavy coal train traffic out of “Green Virtue” BC this month.

Flight Level
December 19, 2020 10:12 am

What will happen if China stops all exports? In about 2 weeks almost all non-food shops & industrial supplies will be empty.

Crazy taxes and mind-boggling regulations. We’re on a barrel now that our industry has been decimated and even that barrel is made in China.

December 19, 2020 10:16 am

More than likely they will say to the populous Australia is refusing to supply the coal.

December 19, 2020 10:16 am

Cutting off your nose to spite your face is the phrase that comes to mind

December 19, 2020 7:19 pm

Australia should invest heavily in Indian infrastructure development. Help them increase their standard of living with cheap power, leading to naturally reduced population growth and help balance geo-political situation.
What’s not to like?

December 19, 2020 9:45 pm

Gee, why don’t the Aussies burn the coal in their own coal power generating plants, in their own country instead?

Yes I know they would have to build a few new plants to do it, which they need to do very much.

December 19, 2020 11:07 pm

Probably running out of foreign exchange.

December 20, 2020 1:31 am

Did you mean 80 ships sitting off the Chinese coast?

December 20, 2020 9:28 am

California should learn from China, as it is the only state in contiguous America that imports most (58 percent) of its crude oil needs from foreign countries, most of which do not like the USA. California’s policies and regulations are desirous of further increasing its dependency on foreign countries to provide the energy for the fifth largest economy in the world in the coming years!

December 20, 2020 12:08 pm

But so far the embargo appears to be hurting China more than Australia.

It’s hurting the Chinese people, but it doesn’t seem to be hurting the Chinese government, so it probably doesn’t matter to those in charge.

james Fosser
December 20, 2020 2:12 pm

The ships are sitting off the coast of China not Australia. Fine reporting.

December 21, 2020 4:37 am

Probably a Psy Ops piece financed by Aus

December 21, 2020 7:20 am

Shoot yourself now, Xi. There is no way forward for you, little us in Australia have won by being reasonable.

%d bloggers like this:
Verified by MonsterInsights