Tag Archives: Heilongjiang

China Reimposes Wuhan-like Lockdown In North-East

The main railway station at Jilin, seen in 2011. Photo credit: 阳之下光. Licenced under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0.

JILIN IS REVERSING the lifting of lockdown restrictions amid a flare-up of new Covid-19 cases in the north-eastern province that shares borders with North Korea and Russia.

In Jilin city, the province’s second-largest city with a population of 4.5 million, transport was shut down again Wuhan-like from 6 am on Wednesday. (The photo above is an archive one of Jilin railway station.) City residents may only leave if they can show they have tested negative for Covid-19 within 48-hours of intended travel, and it is not clear that they can get back. Schools have reclosed and several residential compounds have been quarantined. Authorities have also closed places of entertainment and tourist spots and banned group dining.

Nearby Shulan, where there is also a cluster of new cases, was closed off on Sunday. Contact tracing has established connections between the two outbreaks.

Both places are some 150 kilometres north of the nearest border with North Korea. However, the main road from the provincial capital Changchun to the point where the Chinese, North Korean and Russian borders meet runs through Jilin, which also has road connections north through Shulan to Harbin in neighbouring Heilongjiang province, a hub for Chinese-Russian commerce, and which had reported 386 cases of imported infection as of Monday. Travellers arriving in Harbin from along that road now face 28 days of mandatory quarantine.

Inevitably a new cluster of cases has heightened fears of a spillover of infection from either neighbouring country. The epidemic continues to grow in Russia, which now has approaching one-quarter of a million confirmed cases. Heilongjiang is imposing 35 days of quarantine on travellers from Russia.

North Korea has yet to confirm any Covid-19 infections. However, the suspicion is widespread that there are cases, reinforced by the recent exchange of messages about the virus between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Xi Jinping. North Korea’s economy relies on illicit trade back and forth across the Yalu and Tumen rivers that separate it from China, providing a difficult to detect corridor of disease transmission.

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Drought Spreads To Heartland Granary Province

Despite reports of some relief to drought conditions in the south and central regions of the country, officials in Heilongjiang in the northeast say drought has affected a vast area in a province that grows 10% of China’s grain. Nearly 2 million hectares of farmland have been affected by a lack of rain, according to the province’s agricultural commission, with the situation in three counties describes as “very severe”.

Meanwhile, cloud seeding is being undertaken on a large scale in Hubei in central China in an effort to create artificial rain to lift the drought there. Cloud seeding has also been undertaken above the grasslands of Inner Mongolia and in Jiangxi, Liaoning and Ningxia Hui where drought also lingers.

Weather forecasters say the La Nina cooling of the Pacific that is the cause of the arid conditions is likely to continue to block rain from moving into China’s wheat-growing region through mid-May. What little rain there is in the forecast will only mitigate conditions modestly.

The effects of drought in northern and eastern China also continues to keep water levels in the Yangtze River at 50-year lows, with parts now impassable to some shipping.

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Drought In Northern China Hits Soybean Crop

More drought problems for China’s farmers: this time it is soybean growers in Inner Mongolia and Heilongjiang that are affected. The region, China’s main soybean growing area, is experiencing its lowest rainfall in more than half a century.

The forecast for June promises no relief. More than half Heilongjiang’s crop area–6.2 million hectares–has been hit by the drought. Earlier this year wheat farmers were affected when the North China Plain was parched by drought.

China is the world’s biggest consumer of soybeans, and is importing to cover the gap between consumption and production. Along with drought in Brazil and Argentina, the two countries that rank two and three after the U.S. in the world soybean production table, this has helped push soybean futures to nine months highs.

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