Your Monday Briefing: Record Heat Disrupts China

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Record heat and drought in China

A record-setting drought and an 11-week heat wave are causing broad disruption in southwestern China, a region that depends on dams for more than three-quarters of its electricity generation.

Factories owned by Foxconn, Toyota and Volkswagen have curtailed production or closed for lack of power. Owners of electric cars are waiting overnight at charging stations. In Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, several neighborhoods went without electricity for more than 10 hours a day.

The Yangtze River has receded so much that many oceangoing ships can no longer reach upstream ports, forcing China to divert large numbers of trucks to carry their cargo. A single ship can require 500 or more trucks to move its cargo.

China’s extreme weather has potential implications for the world’s efforts to halt climate change. Beijing has sought to offset at least part of the lost hydropower from the drought by ramping up the use of coal-fired power plants. Customs data shows that the country’s imports of coal from Russia reached a new high last month.

Background: The heat wave has scorched China for more than two months. In Chongqing, a sprawling metropolis of around 20 million people, the temperature soared to 113 degrees last week, the first time such a high reading had been recorded in a Chinese city outside the western desert region of Xinjiang.

Deadly floods across Pakistan

Devastating floods have surged across Pakistan, overflowing riverbanks and bridges, inundating houses and fields and killing more than 100 people over the weekend, officials said late Saturday.

Record flooding has overwhelmed spots along the Indus River, which runs the length of the country. Rainfall has been nearly three times the 30-year nationwide average, the disaster agency said. In Sindh Province, which borders the Arabian Sea to the south, rainfall is nearly five times the average.

Data: Nearly a million homes have been damaged since mid-June, the disaster management agency said. More than 33 million people have been affected by flooding this summer, the agency said, with close to 500,000 now living in relief camps.

Australia weighs Indigenous recognition

Australia has never signed a treaty with Aboriginal people, who are not recognized in the Australian Constitution. Now, a newly elected Labor government has started the process of repairing the nation’s open wound.

Last month, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese kick-started the process of holding a referendum to enshrine in the Constitution a body to advise the government on Indigenous issues, to be known as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. Albanese has consulted with Aboriginal leaders, and on Saturday held an unusual news conference in Sydney with the former N.B.A. star Shaquille O’Neal.

Critics have seized on the fact that Albanese has not fully explained what the body would entail. He tried to answer the criticism on Saturday, saying that the body would ensure that Indigenous people were consulted on issues that affect them, but that it would not “usurp” Parliament.

Barriers: Some Indigenous people say that no matter the details, a Voice to Parliament would not be enough. The previous two conservative prime ministers opposed a referendum, and the current conservative political opposition has not yet said whether it will support the proposal.

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Chi Kee Sawmill and Timber, which has been in business in Hong Kong since the 1940s, will soon make way for a vast development project that is part of China’s broader plan to bind Hong Kong more closely to the mainland. But it is still bringing new life to old wood.

ARTS AND IDEAS

Cloud wars

Morocco and Ethiopia have cloud-seeding programs — a technology that is 75 years old yet still unproven — as does Iran and Saudi Arabia. A half-dozen other Middle Eastern and North African countries are considering starting one. China has the most ambitious program in the world, which aims to either stimulate rain or halt hail across half the country.

The unquestioned regional leader is the United Arab Emirates. After 20 years of research and experimentation, the country runs its cloud-seeding program with near military protocols. Nine pilots rotate on standby, ready for meteorologists to spot a promising weather formation.

Israel, a pioneer in cloud seeding, halted its program in 2021 after 50 years because it seemed to yield at best only marginal gains in precipitation. But the leader of the U.A.E.’s program claims at least a 5 percent increase in rain annually — and almost certainly far more.

PLAY, WATCH, EAT

What to Cook

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Whet

P.S. Azmat Khan, whose reporting was part of our Pulitzer Prize win this year for reporting on civilian casualties from airstrikes, is joining The Times.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is on U.S. student loan forgiveness.

You can reach Whet and the team at [email protected].

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