China counters heatwaves as northern cities swelter

"This year's summer heat came earlier than usual, and more people order cold drinks, ice cream and other cooling takeout treats," said Liu, who is receiving 40 to 50 orders daily.

The highlights of Liu Yuxin's day working as a food deliveryman are the moments he spends picking up orders from air-conditioned restaurants, which can offer a brief respite from the sweltering temperatures outside.

Riding an electric bicycle, the 28-year-old man delivers meals from morning to night in Shenyang, the capital of northeast China's Liaoning Province.

"This year's summer heat came earlier than usual, and more people order cold drinks, ice cream and other cooling takeout treats these days," said Liu, who is receiving 40 to 50 orders daily.

This week, more than 2 million square kilometers of regions in China, covering Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Henan and Shandong, have been gripped by the sweltering weather, with temperatures surpassing 35 degrees Celsius on some days.

The National Meteorological Center maintained an alert for high temperatures on Sunday morning. Three provincial-level regions, namely Inner Mongolia, Liaoning and Xinjiang, are expected to see some areas endure scorching heat of over 40 degrees Celsius, according to the forecast.

In Liaoning, the summer of 2023 started five days earlier than in previous years, with the extreme heat gripping western parts of the province. On Saturday, four meteorological stations in Chaoyang City recorded a maximum temperature of 40 to 43 degrees Celsius. Jianping County and Lingyuan City even broke temperature records for June.

This round of heatwaves, which started Wednesday and is expected to end on June 20, marks the longest high-temperature period western Liaoning has experienced in June since 1995, the local meteorological authorities said.

People wearing long sleeves, wide-brimmed hats or sunglasses rush along the street, buses have their air conditioners cranked up, and everybody does their best to minimize the time spent outside.

That's how it panned out over the past few days in the Chinese capital of Beijing, which for the first time in 2023 launched an orange alert for high temperatures on Friday morning, the second-highest level of its kind.

The emergency department of the Peking University People's Hospital treated 10 heatstroke cases on Saturday, said Chi Cheng, a doctor with the hospital, who also advised citizens to avoid outdoor activities and strenuous exercise during high-temperature periods in the afternoon.


Governments and enterprises in regions that have been gripped by the sweltering weather are finding ways to beat the heat.

The hot weather has led to a peak in electricity consumption in many northern cities.

"With the increase in economic activities in the second quarter and the impact of the recent temperature rise, the load of Beijing's power grid has gradually grown by about 30 percent compared with the same period last year," said Zhao Rui, an engineer with the State Grid Beijing Electric Power Company.

The company has deployed 261 troubleshooting teams and 109 power-generating trucks that are on standby around the clock for emergencies, Zhao added.

Jinan, the capital of Shandong Province, has ordered sanitation workers to suspend outdoor work between 11 am and 4 pm, when the daytime temperature exceeds 35 degrees Celsius, and to stop all outdoor operations for the whole day, when the temperature climbs to over 38 degrees Celsius.

To combat drought induced by persistent heat, the Liaoning Provincial Department of Water Resources has increased water reserves in some areas in advance to ensure a reliable water supply and guarantee food security in the rice-producing regions. The cumulative supplemental water volume in large and medium-sized irrigation areas has reached 186 million cubic meters since June 12.

Liu Yuxin works for Meituan Waimai, a major food delivery platform in China. It launched an initiative on Wednesday, establishing heatstroke prevention stations in many cities, providing deliverymen with sun-proof clothing, beverages and medicines, and optimizing delivery routes to minimize the time they spend outdoors.

"With Meituan's high-temperature subsidy and an increase in orders, I can earn extra money of 1,000 yuan (about 140 US dollars) a month," said Liu, who has been a takeaway rider for four years in Shenyang.

China's National Climate Center recently forecast that the majority of the country is expected to see summer temperatures level with or higher than the average levels recorded in previous years.

China is not alone in suffering from high temperatures. In early May this year, parts of several Southeast Asian countries, including Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, saw high temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius, and some places even broke historical records, according to Zhou Bing, a researcher from the center.

The likelihood of El Nino developing later this year is increasing, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said in early May.

This would have the opposite impact on weather and climate patterns in many regions of the world to the long-running La Nina and would likely raise global temperatures, according to the WMO's El Nino/La Nina Update, which is based on input from WMO Global Producing Centres of Long-Range Forecasts and expert assessments.

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