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China port congestion seen growing on back of local lockdowns and poor weather

Local lockdowns combined with stormy weather is seeing congestion rise at many ports across China again.

Shanghai, which suffered a tough two-month lockdown earlier this year, has seen a mass testing campaign this week get underway for all residents in nine of the city’s 16 districts.

Shanghai’s spike in infections after weeks of few cases comes after the detection of the more contagious BA.5 sub-strain of the omicron variant.

In Guangzhou, a large southern Chinese port, a mass testing exercise is also underway.

Wugang, home to one of the country’s major steel mills, announced a lockdown on Tuesday after finding a single covid case, a reminder of Beijing’s strict zero covid policy.

Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu province in northwestern China, shifted into a full lockdown today with Nomura analysts estimating more than 30 cities are facing covid curbs.

An update this week from digital logistics platform Zencargo warned: “[T]here is growing concern that local lockdowns in China will result in further congestion in already strained ports.”

In addition to restrictions, Chinese vessels have been affected by typhoons, impacting operations in Ningbo, Shenzhen and Hong Kong, and resulting in fewer vessels berthing. Berthing times in Shanghai have also ticked up in July.

Shanghai officials have reopened some centralised quarantine sites in recent days and many neighborhood committees have advised residents to prepare 14 days of food and medicine, something that has spooked many citizens who have already had to endure one of the longest lockdowns of the pandemic so far.

More than 200 buildings have been placed under lockdown across Shanghai, however the number of covid cases does appear to have plateaued over the last 24 hours.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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