Typhoon Muifa is the latest blow to China’s battered economy and the world’s supply chains

Science & Health

After heat waves, heavy rainfall, and floods, Typhoon Muifa is just what China’s struggling economy doesn’t need. Global supply chains will feel the pain, too.

Illustration by Nadya Yeh

Typhoon Muifa picked up steam on Tuesday as it headed toward the twin port cities of Ningbo and Zhoushan, which jointly house Asia’s largest shipping hub.

After the storm passed northeast of Taiwan, CCTV announced that Muifa, the 12th typhoon to hit China this year, would likely land on the coast late on Wednesday. Winds are expected to hit up to 104 miles (167 kilometers) per hour, with waves of up to five meters (16 feet) expected near Shanghai.

  • Gale-force winds will lash coastal areas of Taiwan, Zhejiang, Fujian, Shanghai, and Jiangsu from now to Wednesday afternoon, according to the National Meteorological Center.

Container shipping ports are battening down the hatches and calling ships back to port, while authorities in affected areas have ordered schools to close, canceled flights, and evacuated tourists from nearby islands.

  • Shanghai’s major container port of Yangshan, and other container terminals, will halt some operations on Tuesday evening, and shut all facilities by Wednesday morning, according to a statement from Shanghai Port. The Meishan container terminal in Ningbo will close down at midnight on Tuesday.
  • Over 500 flights have been canceled at Shanghai’s Pudong and Hongqiao airports: China Southern Airlines canceled 25 flights in and out of Shanghai airports on Tuesday, with plans to cancel another 11 flights for Wednesday.
  • Some train services in the Yangtze River Delta region have been suspended, per the China Railway Shanghai Group, including routes from Shanghai to Beijing and Kunming.
  • The cities of Ningbo, Zhoushan, and Taizhou have suspended classes in schools on Wednesday, while about 13,000 people from islands and tourist sites located along the typhoon’s path have been evacuated, state television announced per Reuters.
  • Nearly 7,400 commercial vessels have returned to shelter in ports, while passenger ship routes in the affected areas were suspended as of noon.

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The typhoon is yet another bad weather incident that has dragged down China’s already-struggling economy, as extreme weather and COVID-zero lockdowns have repeatedly brought the nation to a standstill.

  • Last week, Super Typhoon Hinnamnor grazed along China’s coast, temporarily closing Yangshan Port (in South Korea, at least 10 people have died from the tropical storm, while other areas are still dealing with wreckage from ripped-up roads, broken windows, and toppled trees).
  • A prolonged heat wave has drained water reserves and ignited forest fires this summer, forcing authorities in China to curb power use in households, office buildings, and shopping malls in a bid to shore up the country’s strained energy supply — to a point where carmaker Tesla sought help from the Shanghai government to ensure that its suppliers in Sichuan would receive enough power to keep operations running.
  • In July, a series of flash floods from heavy downpours killed at least a dozen people and caused thousands to evacuate.

Nadya Yeh