Yunnan drought damage intensifying
The rain and snow that fell across northern Yunnan last week was not nearly enough to relieve the record drought that has left Yunnan with countless water shortages, forest fires, and failed crops. Government projections now have the drought lasting into early summer.
Estimates now stand at almost six million people and 3.6 million livestock in Yunnan lacking normal access to water—including 1.8 million people in the Kunming area alone—along with 2.5 million hectares of cropland affected. The number of people lacking normal access to drinking water could rise to nearly eight million in March without further rain.
The drought is now also affecting shipping traffic on the Mekong River.
After years of Chinese civil engineering projects such as dredging channels and blasting shoals, the upper Mekong River, known in Yunnan as the Lancang River, has become a major freight conduit between China, Laos, and Thailand, carrying oil shipments and other cargo up and down the river.
Reuters is reporting that the river is at half of its usual level for this time of year and China has halted the operation of 21 Chinese boats and stopped issuing border crossing permits to cargo boats seeking to enter China from the south.
Additionally, the drought has hit Yunnan and neighboring Guangxi's sugar farmers hard, leading to a 12 percent decrease in national sugar production for this growing season compared to last year. This development could drive up national prices if China begins to import more sugar.
Kunming apartment rents rising fast
If it seems that your landlord is trying to bleed you dry when you re-sign your lease this year, you might take consolation in the fact that other renters across Kunming are being similarly squeezed.
According to a Xinhua Net article, rental prices for small-sized family dwellings in the downtown area have increased by 10 to 15 percent in recent weeks as a surge of outside workers return to Kunming from Spring Festival vacations and a new crop of college graduates begins to flood the rental market.
The increase comes on the heels of rising prices last year.
Viewing China's stimulus package through Chenggong
A Financial Times article that appeared on Sunday used the example of Kunming's Chenggong new area to examine whether rapid development, China's economic stimulus package, and property speculation have caused a national property bubble.
The article focuses on the breakneck pace of residential construction in Chenggong, which for the moment is home to row upon row of mostly uninhabited apartment blocks and other buildings.
Kunming, however, has a rapidly growing population and very little space remaining around the original city center. With government offices and universities preparing to relocate there, it is difficult to imagine Chenggong remaining a ghost town for long.
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