On my regular trip to Asia, the major news is the snowstorms battering China. These started on 10 January, and are expected to continue for at least another week.
The transportation system seems to have ground to a standstill in many areas as a result. and so essential coal and food supplies are not reaching the major cities. The NRDC reports that 17 of China’s provinces have already suffered electricity blackouts. Many factories have had to close as a result.
Premier Wen Jiabao has now gone further and called for ‘key enterprises to take social responsibility’ and shutdown their operations. The Wall Street Journal reports that 78 million people have so far been affected by the storms, with 24 deaths recorded and 107000 homes destroyed.
This will make for a miserable Lunar New Year in China, with food shortages reported. Clearly chemicals production and demand will also be badly affected.