China Focus: Beijing tries to stay cool as mercury rises

Source: Xinhua| 2018-08-03 19:43:49|Editor: ZX
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BEIJING, Aug. 3 (Xinhua) -- The coolest part of food delivery-man Wei Hao's day is when he is picking up food from restaurants that have air-conditioning, offering a brief relief from the scorching summer heat.

Riding an electric bicycle, the migrant worker from nearby Hebei Province hurries from office to office in downtown Beijing, dropping off meals from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. in the searing sun.

"It's too hot these days. More people order meals and cold drinks online." said Wei, who is receiving more than 30 orders a day, around 10 more than usual.

A persistent heat wave has continued scorching a vast area of China, including Beijing, since late July, with the meteorological authorities Friday maintaining an alert for high temperatures.

Beijing saw 17 days with temperatures at or above 35 degrees Celsius between June 1 and Aug. 1, equalling the total number of high temperature days last year.

The authorities explained that the impact of the subtropical high, together with weak wind resulted in temperatures rising very quickly and high humidity.

As high temperatures scorch Beijing, people are finding ways to beat the heat and turn a profit.

Shopping malls have become a popular destination. Wang Xiaoji, a housewife, sits in the New World shopping mall all afternoon to enjoy free air conditioning.

"You can't live without air conditioners. I have at least two ice suckers and more cold drinks every day in the mall," Wang said.

Besides cold drinks, sales of other items have soared in the summer heat.

Chen Lamei, manager of a Watsons store, says that sun cream has been in short supply, and sales of sunshades, whitening masks and mosquito repellent have soared over the past week.

Roller skating is a great way for children to avoid heat. The ice rink at New World shopping mall is almost full every day.

"We receive around 500 visitors on a daily basis, double the figure on ordinary days," said manager Sun Changhong. "The ice-making machine runs around-the-clock."

Electricity demand in Beijing reached an all time high of more than 23 million kilowatts Friday noon, according to the State Grid Beijing Electric Power Company.

A string of actions have been taken to beat the heat. Over 300 repair teams and 240 electric generators from the company are on standby for emergencies such as power cuts, while robots have been sent to monitor temperatures inside cable tunnels and transformer substations.

Sanitation workers have been offered items to help with sun protection, including straw hats, oversleeves, water and medicine.

To better serve those who work outdoors, a special refrigerator has been set up at an exit of Beijing Dongdaqiao subway station, providing free bottled water and watermelons for sanitation workers, traffic police, couriers and delivery men.

It's a part of a non-profit campaign that first launched in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou in mid-July and soon emerged in cities such as Beijing and Shanghai.

"More than 300 bottles of water is taken away from the refrigerator every day," said an employee from a nearby beverage shop which joined kind passers-by to donate the water and watermelons.

Besides Beijing, other areas of China including Inner Mongolia, Jilin, Liaoning, Tianjin, Shandong and Shaanxi have been hit by persistent heat over the past two weeks.

Shenyang, capital of Liaoning Province, on Thursday experienced its hottest day since 1951 as the temperature reached 38.4 degrees Celsius.

China is not alone suffering the high temperatures. In July, France has experienced the hottest month since 1900, according to Meteo-France's data. The temperatures in some areas of the Republic of Korea have reached an all-time high due to the heat wave in the middle of summer.

According to an article released on the website of the World Meteorological Organization, the recent episodes of extreme heat and precipitation are increasing as a result of climate change.

Climate change is just a concept for Wei, though he has felt a little hotheaded recently, and many of his delivery-men friends have suffered from sunstroke.

"The hottest days are our busiest days," said Wei, whose clothes are wet all day long from sweat.

Attracted by a monthly salary of 8,000 yuan (around 1,160 U.S. dollars), he came to Beijing last year and rented a small room without an air conditioner.

"Beijing is hotter than my hometown. Luckily, it's easier here to find a shopping mall and get relief from the heat," he said. Enditem