Major cities in China’s southern Guangdong Province experienced sudden widespread blackouts on Dec. 21. The power outages lasted for more than an hour, causing panic among residents. Amid the power usage restrictions enforced by several provinces since last week, the recent incident fuels concern about China’s energy crisis as coal imports from Australia have been banned due to trade disputes between both countries.
From midnight until 1 a.m. on Dec. 21, mass power outages put several major cities in Guangdong, including Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Foshan, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Huizhou and some parts of Zhuhai, in complete darkness.
The Guangdong Power Supply Bureau sent out a notice later that day, which stated that at around midnight [on Dec. 21], some residents in Sanyuanli and Luochongwei of Guangzhou city were affected by “equipment failures”; and the Bureau restored electricity after more than an hour of emergency repairs.
Water was cut off in many cities as the power outage shut off water pumps. Some netizens reported that the water supply was cut off at midnight. A Guangzhou resident told Apple Daily that she called the service hotline of the Power Supply Bureau and the local China Southern Power Grid said it was a "grid failure."
Some netizens took photos of the city streets that were in complete darkness and shared the images on social media platforms.
Netizens in Guangzhou’s Liwan and Baiyun districts reported that the local mobile phone signal was interrupted for 10 to 20 minutes, as many base stations were affected by power outages. The internet, electricity and water supply were also cut off. They also said that hospitals, nursing homes, and school dormitories in some neighborhoods were affected.
Last week, China’s Development and Reform Commission in Zhejiang, Hunan and other provinces issued notices to restrict power usage among residents and small businesses. The insufficient power generation is not only disrupting people’s daily lives but also affecting industries, RFA reported. Furthermore, the authorities seem to be downplaying the severity of the situation by describing power outages as "interrupted load" and "orderly use of electricity."