China and Australia's deteriorating trade relations seems to have backfired on the Asian superpower.
Ban on coal hurting the Chinese people
Giving the cold shoulder to Australian coal exporters may be one of the causes behind increasing power shortages in China, reported The Australian.
The situation reportedly has millions of Chinese residents rationing their use of electricity and skimping on heating even as China is in the midst of its winter months.
"You cannot pretend that bad relations between China and Australia haven’t contributed to this situation," a Chinese energy insider told The Australian.
According to ABC News, authorities in the province of Hunan have put power shortages down partly to winter temperatures and a reduction in energy production capacity.
The latter includes "the reduction of coal-burning", among other deficiencies.
Apart from potentially causing power shortages, the South China Morning Post reported the ban on Australian coal has also contributed to the commodity's price skyrocketing in China.
China previously the largest importer of Australian coal
In October, Reuters reported that China had halted coal imports from Australia, telling its ports not to accept Australian thermal and metallurgical coal.
The move forced Australian shipments to be sold to other markets at the last minute.
China later appeared to formalise the ban, approving the import of coal from many countries "except for Australia", ABC News reported, citing Chinese nationalistic media Global Times.
According to Reuters, China had previously been the largest importer of Australian coal.
In the year up till June, China had purchased 27 per cent of Australia's metallurgical coal and 20 per cent of its thermal coal.
Coal exports which were worth A$55 billion (S$55.4 billion) in 2019 to the Australian economy represents the nation's second-largest export.
China: Australia is on the losing end ultimately
China's ban on Australian coal appears to be staying for the long haul, with Global Times reporting an energy economics expert as saying that it will be Australia's coal industry that will "suffer the losses ultimately" once China's coal peak season ends.
It's just one of the many Australian imports to be affected as the two countries continue to engage in a trade tit for tat.
According to CNBC, China has also slapped tariffs on Australian wine and barley exporters, while hitting lobsters, timber, red meat, and cotton exports with other restrictions.
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Top image from Dominik Vanyi via Unsplash