China’s system advantage in tackling Northern Hemisphere’s ‘winter challenge’: Global Times editorial
Published: Oct 20, 2021 08:33 PM
Photo: Xinhua

Photo: Xinhua

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) announced Tuesday that the rise in coal prices has deviated from the fundamental level of supply and demand, and will use necessary means stipulated in the Price Law to bring coal prices back to a reasonable range. This statement is of great significance for stabilizing market expectations.

Current energy problems are not unique to China. As winter approaches, an international energy shortage is rapidly spreading across the Northern Hemisphere, leading to chaos caused by power shortages and skyrocketing prices.

Reports say that Europe's investment in fossil fuels has dropped significantly. However, clean energy has failed to effectively fill the gap caused by the reduction in fossil fuel supply. Moreover, the epidemic has led to chaos in the supply chain, while seriously clogged transportation has triggered a chain reaction. These all made gas prices raise two to six times, and electricity prices two or three times. Next, shortages and increases will spread to grain, meat and various consumer goods, causing an inflationary pressure.

The livelihood of most countries in the Northern Hemisphere will see the impact. More and more shelves at US malls will become empty, and US heating bills are expected to jump 54 percent this winter. As for European countries, they have an even lesser response capacity due to their smaller size.

What is happening in the world tells us that modernization is advanced, delicate but fragile. The destructive power of the COVID-19 pandemic is pervasive and will be far more destructive than the public health crisis itself. It will be a long time before the world returns to normal. Countries are likely to deal with a succession of crises that will repeatedly test their resilience.

The overall impact of China's power shortage has been exposed, and although electricity prices remain unchanged, the skyrocketing coal price has led to chaos. It's time to swiftly and fully utilize China's macro-regulation advantages. We hope our speed of resolving problems will again be at the forefront of the world, and China can be the fastest country in restoring production and supply.

The world's total energy supply is abundant. OPEC is still in a cycle of limited production. The compression of coal production is a conscious action to reduce carbon emissions. But since the COVID-19 outbreak, the world lacks unity and policy coordination among major forces. As the policies are already in chaos, the supply chain will inevitably be broken.

And the recovery is bound to be much harder than during normal times. Now is the time for countries to practice their true skills. One the one hand, the fight against the epidemic must be orderly and smooth, while the operation rate must be high enough on the other. We need to keep the internal cycle free of breaks and be able to cope with the challenges of international supply chain disruptions. It is not easy to maintain such a balance in the long run.

China's huge market, complete industrial sectors, constantly adequate strategic provision, and the strong leadership of the Party and the government allow us to make a rapid emergency response. Once the problem is found, China will not allow it to grow.

What needs to be emphasized is that the West is likely to suffer from a more serious energy crisis than China. It will also face the chaos of the supply chain, hindering the recovery of the Western economy. But these should not become excuses for the loopholes and flaws in China's work. No matter how big the crisis in the West, it is their job to deal with it. Even if a natural disaster occurs in China, the human disaster factor in it needs to be found out and eliminated, mobilizing our institutional advantages as much as possible. 

Be it a power crunch or the oversimplified response from local authorities, there are lessons we can learn from them. There is no need to make comparisons between how much effort we should put to prevent these problems and the capabilities of the US and Europe.

China's COVID-19 control has so far been very successful. And we should handle the problems in our current economic work better than the West as well. This is not only the expectation of all Chinese people, but also another response from China's powerful system when facing challenges.