The CCP’s Hidden Agenda Behind China’s Sudden Power Cuts

October 5, 2021 Updated: October 7, 2021

Commentary

The growing power shortage in China has spread to Beijing and Shanghai, while residents in northeastern China—the hardest-hit area—are stockpiling candles.

I still remember the bitterly cold winters during the 1960s in Liaoning, a coastal province bordering North Korea. In local elementary schools, the classrooms were freezing cold and students took turns lighting the wood-burning stove.

Who would have thought that power rationing would happen in China today? It’s easy to see North Korea in that situation because it’s very much like what China used to be in the 1960s. But it’s hard to believe that the world’s “second superpower” would need to ration electricity. Northeastern China, the coldest part of the country, needs coal or electricity for heat and candles just won’t do the job.

Many analysts believe the reasons behind China’s power cuts are the following: boycotting Australia and its coal imports, rising coal prices, reducing carbon and environmental protection, saving energy, and deficit from low electricity prices. Few experts have talked about the regime’s infighting involving power sectors, paving the way for price increases, the Sino–U.S. competition, among other things.

I believe there are two reasons that compel the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to ration electricity, even to the point that it would sacrifice economic and social stability: to maintain Xi Jinping’s power and to support the regime’s preparation for war.

Xi wants to hold onto power for as long as he can, and to secure his international privilege.

The COP 26 U.N. Climate Change Conference, hosted by the United Kingdom in partnership with Italy, will take place from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12 in the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow, Scotland. Xi hasn’t stepped outside China for more than 600 days. I believe he’s ready for it.

By addressing the climate issue, Xi hopes that it will boost China’s international image and get Europe’s support. Thus, Xi would look good in front of other world leaders if he made a promise that China would slash carbon emissions, power consumption, and pollution levels within a month, at all costs.

This is the most superficial reason for the CCP’s current power cuts. But the other reason is more profound.

The Hidden Agenda

Currently, the power cuts have affected 20 provinces, mostly in the coastal, eastern, and northeastern regions. In other words, they are all first-tier cities and provinces. It seems that the CCP is willing to sacrifice the richest and most economically developed areas. But why?

Epoch Times Photo
A Chinese woman carries coal in the hills above the Chishui River, in Maotai, Guizhou province, China, on Sept. 21, 2016. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

Frankly, the shortage of electricity itself is a lie.

According to the latest data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS): “In August, the rate of raw coal production in industries above designated size changed from declining to increasing; the growth rate of crude oil production was steady; the production rate of natural gas increased; and electric power production increase was relatively narrowing. Compared with the August 2019 level, the two-year average growth rate of raw coal production turned from negative to positive, crude oil production remained stable, and natural gas and electricity production grew rather rapidly.”

According to official data, in August, 738.3 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity were generated, a year-on-year increase of 0.2 percent; from January to August, power generation was 5,399.4 billion kWh, an increase of 11.3 percent year-on-year, or an increase of 11.6 percent when compared to the same period in 2019—that equates to an average growth rate of 5.7 percent per year over the last two years.

The data also clearly show that the growth rate of most individual energy sectors—thermal, nuclear, wind, and solar power—has slowed, but the total amount of power generation has been increasing!

Judging from the figures between August 2020 and August 2021, the average daily power generation in October 2020 was 19.7 billion kWh, the lowest in 12 months, and more than 4 billion kWh lower than the latest figure: 23.8 billion kWh in August 2021.

It’s interesting that in October 2020, when the monthly average daily power generation dipped to the lowest level in the past 12 months, Beijing didn’t impose such power curbs. But now, why is it necessary to do so after the power output, by the same measure, has increased by more than 20 percent from its lowest point? It makes no sense.

According to the NBS, China’s electricity production in the third quarter actually continued to rise, only at a slower pace. But factories and businesses in these first-tier cities and provinces didn’t benefit from the power production.

So where did China’s mass electricity go after Beijing’s power cuts? Is the CCP hiding something from the public?

China’s third-tier military-industrial enterprises are the most likely candidates for the large consumption of mass electricity. For reasons known to all, China moved its main arms production to the mountainous areas in central China. It’s similar to how the United States chose Oak Ridge, Tennessee, as the site for the pilot plutonium plant and the uranium enrichment plant, under the Manhattan Project in 1942, because of its hidden and secure power supply along a river in an undeveloped area.

The large-scale and abnormal distribution of power outages has avoided areas with dense military industries, as the expanded production of nuclear weapons, new weapons, and other military products would require a huge amount of electricity.

Therefore, why does the regime have to ration power at this time? The CCP wants to boost its international status and also to prepare for war—this shows the CCP is desperate to hold onto power.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Frank Xie
Frank Tian Xie, Ph.D., is a John M. Olin Palmetto professor in business and associate professor of marketing at the University of South Carolina Aiken.