China Industry Grinds to a Halt to Celebrate Communist Centenary

China pressed paused on industrial activity to clear air pollution for the Chinese Communist Party’s 100th anniversary celebration on Thursday.

Some work, such as coal mining, will be closed for as long as a week in the country’s key producing hubs. Others like steel manufacturing are being put on hold for just one day. Port operations are also being suspended, with trucks delaying loading fuel until Thursday afternoon in some refiners.

Highly-polluting industrial activity is often halted during important events in China to avoid haze or accidents that could spark public criticism. This has been especially important this year, with the country going into overdrive to mark the party’s founding in 1921 by Mao Zedong and a handful of other revolutionaries.

President Xi Jinping addressed the nation on Thursday from Tiananmen Square, saying China had built a “moderately prosperous society,” officially marking the completion of a long-held Communist Party goal.

The industrial action isn’t expected to have any lingering impact on demand or output, although Dongxing Futures Co. analyst Qi Chunyi said Wednesday a slowdown in coal production could tighten the market.

Thermal coal futures on the Zhengzhou Commodity Exchange swung between gains and losses edging 0.1% lower to 792 yuan a ton at 10:24 a.m. local time after earlier rising as much as 0.9%.

Coal was the biggest target of cleaning up the air around Beijing ahead of the anniversary. In Shanxi, the country’s biggest coal producing province, 128 of the fossil fuel mines accounting for nearly a quarter of the region’s capacity have suspended operations, according to industry website coal.in-en.com.

Steel production, which is also heavily polluting, has been rolled back. Some producers in the cities of Tangshan and Handan have lowered output of the metal, according to analysts with GF Futures Co., while ports near Beijing including Tangshan, Jingtang and Caofeidian also halted work until Thursday afternoon, coal.in-en.com said.

In Shandong, dozens of independent oil refiners suspended fuel loading onto trucks until Thursday afternoon, according to executives at privately-owned oil refiners in the province. The celebrations may also slow transport networks as some areas ban trucks carrying coal from entering, according to Qi.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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