China must be better prepared for extreme weather and disasters, influential newspaper says

An influential financial newspaper in Beijing has warned that China must improve its disaster prevention and mitigation capabilities to counter the impact of more frequent extreme weather events on the country’s agricultural production.

“Meteorological disasters are the most important factor in reducing food production,” a commentary published by the state-owned Economic Daily said on Tuesday.

Over the past 10 years, China has lost an average of more than 30 million tonnes of grain per year because of extreme weather events, according to the commentary.



‘Get scorched or suffocated’: Beijing residents grapple with severe summer heat

‘Get scorched or suffocated’: Beijing residents grapple with severe summer heat

“In the past two years, extreme weather has been more common, with frequent droughts and floods, and pests and diseases are becoming more severe, posing a severe situation for disaster prevention and reduction in agriculture,” the article said.

Recent extreme weather events, such as heavy rains and flooding, have swamped large parts of China’s south this year, while the north is already seeing some of its highest temperatures of 2024.

The Economic Daily commentary said China should use advanced technology to build effective disaster warning systems as well as post-disaster reconstruction measures. China should also reinforce the infrastructure of agricultural production and irrigation projects to boost resilience to extreme weather.

The National Meteorological Centre issued the first red rainstorm warning of the year on Monday and Tuesday for five provinces along the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River.

China has a four-tier, colour-coded weather warning system, with red representing the most severe warning, followed by orange, yellow and blue.

In addition to the provinces of Hunan and Hubei, parts of Zhejiang, Jiangxi and Anhui also faced the risk of of geological disasters, such as flooding, landslides and mudslides.

This photo shows the rising water level of a river in Changsha, in central China’s Hunan province on Monday after intense rain. Photo: Xinhua

At least 13 people have died as the result of flooding and landslides in Hunan, according to state news agency Xinhua. On Monday, the Hunan Meteorological Bureau had issued three alerts for rainstorms, geological disasters and flash floods at the same time.

A red extreme heat warning was also issued for the city of Turpan, in the northern part of Xinjiang.

On Sunday, Huoyan (Flaming) Mountain, one of the hottest places in China, located in the Turpan region, saw the surface temperature soar to 81 degrees Celsius (178 degrees Fahrenheit) with the air temperature exceeding 40 degrees Celsius, according to CCTV.

The Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs activated a Level-III emergency response to drought on June 17 as sweltering heat blanketed the provinces of Hebei, Shanxi, Shandong and Henan.

A thermometer at Huoyan Mountain records a surface temperature of 81 degrees Celsius on Sunday. Photo: CCTV

China has a four-tier drought-control emergency response system, with Level I being the most severe.

A day later, the Ministry of Finance said that the authorities had earmarked 443 million yuan (US$62.26 million) in disaster relief funds for drought control relief and agricultural production support across the country.

The money was being used to replenish parched soil, replant crops, and apply fertiliser in the provinces of Hebei, Shanxi, Jiangsu, Anhui, Shandong, Henan, and Shaanxi, according to the statement.

Soon after, authorities earmarked another 346 million yuan in disaster relief funds for flood control and drought relief efforts, according to China’s finance ministry.



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