As China’s tough zero-Covid policy shakes supply lines once more, ships are piling up at key Chinese ports. While Beijing has plans in place to keep ports open during Covid outbreaks, the same cannot be said for the thousands of enterprises that are being forced to shut down, with workers being urged to return home for seven-day lockdown periods.
Almost every inhabitant in Shenzhen, which is home to the world’s fourth largest container port, as well as the whole province of Jilin in the extreme north of the country, is currently under lockdown.
Currently there are 34 vessels off Shenzhen waiting to dock, compared to an average of seven a year ago, according to Refinitiv ship tracking data. At Qingdao, a northeastern Chinese port city, there are around 30 vessels waiting to dock compared to an average of seven last year. At the country’s two largest ports – Shanghai and Ningbo-Zhoushan – there has also been a notable build-up in ships at anchor in recent days. The Danish liner Maersk claims that while China’s ports are operating properly, the country’s transportation productivity is being hampered by the rigorous Covid regulations. “All things considered, the impact is definitely not as significant as last year,” said Lars Jensen, CEO of Vespucci Maritime, via LinkedIn yesterday, alluding to the summer of 2021, when Shenzhen port was largely shut down for three weeks due to another Covid epidemic. “Let’s hope it doesn’t become much worse (although zero-tolerance and the Omicron variety aren’t a good combination…),” Jensen added.