In order to meet the central mandate of energy consumption, local authorities in China turned off street lights, restricted heating, and banned the use of elevators.
For many months, factories in Yoho, dubbed China’s “Christmas city”, produced the majority of glitter, pearls, and other ornaments hanging from pine trees around the world.
But production almost stopped working in mid-December due to the local government turning off the lights.
Ma Hairu, who works at a factory that makes paper decorations for Christmas and New Year’s Eve, said his factory had difficulty meeting demand as they were only allowed to work for half a day.
Officials in Zhejiang province are racing to achieve the central government’s five-year plan for energy consumption targets, slated to end on December 31. Earlier this month, the local government issued a directive asking businesses not to let elevators operate below the third floor and only turn on the heating system when the outside temperature drops below 3 degrees Celsius.
“There is no electricity shortage [in Zhejiang]. Some parts of the province have self-imposed electricity restriction to save energy and reduce emissions,” said Zhao Shen Xin, Secretary General of the Development Committee and National Reform (NDRC), said last week.
Cutting energy consumption has disrupted the lives of millions of people. In a city of one million people, heating systems in offices, shopping centers, schools, and hospitals have been turned off, even though it’s only about 10 degrees Celsius during the day.
After a backlash on the network, the functional forces turned the lights back on. A government hotline operator told CNN on Dec. 23: “The lights are only off for a few days. Most are on now.”
However, other restrictions still apply. Yin Mingfei, a cafe manager at the downtown mall, said heating had been turned off for almost two weeks, while electronic billboards and escalators were inactive.
Cities and factories have been ordered to reduce or suspend production in the midst of orders flooding.
“Of course, the impact on the business is huge. Red envelopes orders are rushing in but I can’t fulfill them all,” he said. “So I had to refuse some applications.”