Coal-fired power plant in Shanghai, China. Getty Images
China, which is experiencing the worst electricity shortage, is increasing its electricity imports from neighboring countries such as North Korea, Russia and Myanmar.
Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported on the 24th that, citing data from the General Administration of Customs (Statistics Office) of China, China imported 35,974 MWh of electricity from North Korea last month, up 62% from the same period last year. He added that the amount of electricity imported from North Korea during the first three quarters of this year was 291 GWh, up 37 percent from the same period last year, totaling $11.9 million (about 14 billion won).
North Korea cannot export coal, iron ore, agricultural products, etc., according to the UN sanctions adopted by the UN in 2017, but electricity trade is not subject to sanctions.
North Korea’s power enters China through Dandong, Liaoning Province, the largest trading hub between North Korea and China, the newspaper reported. Liaoning Province, along with other northern provinces such as Heilongjiang and Jilin, has been suffering from severe electricity shortages since September.
The amount of electricity China imported from Myanmar in the first to third quarters also increased by 44% compared to the same period of the previous year to 1231 GWh (worth 40 billion won). It imported 2381 GWh (144.1 billion won) of electricity from Russia in the first to third quarters of this year. This is an increase of 1.3% compared to the same period last year. According to SCMP, Russia’s state-run Energy Corporation accepted a request from China to double its electricity exports in the fourth quarter of this year compared to the same period last year.
Although China increased electricity imports from neighboring countries, the import volume itself was small, so most of the electricity it needed was produced domestically, the SCMP reported. Last month, China produced 675,100 GWh of electricity in Korea and imported 670.6 GWh of electricity.
Hou Yunhe, a professor at the University of Hong Kong, told SCMP that “China imports very little electricity because China’s power generation is large and the electricity industry is monopoly.”