Any Port in a Storm– Except Shanghai

They say that culture is downstream of politics… but then so are supply chains. Right now the Chinese people are cruising down the stream on both–as culture, politics, and the supply chain are clashing; as a result, the wake for the world’s shipping industry is looking turbulent.

More specifically, politically driven lockdowns are strangling the city of Shanghai and stagnating its ports. Logistics experts estimate that a full twenty percent of shipping containers are backed up, with thirty percent of that backlog outside of Shanghai alone.

Much of the shortages– reportedly especially in the United States and the UK are the result of Chinese lockdowns that followed a latent COVID-19 lockdown. But perhaps those suffering most are Chinese citizens themselves: Videos of Chinese citizens sharing rations of a single chicken and 10 carrots have infuriated viewers. “My daughter and I had that for our meal for four days. But we didn’t get more supplies for ten days after that,” the BBC reports.

Alarmingly, supply chain disruptions average six weeks before the fallout is felt downstream. This port-ends more issues at home: The ship of the US economy is already rocked by waves of inflation and supply chain crises. “The insanity of this situation has created a dense fog, making the logistics planning picture beyond murky. The obstruction created by Shanghai has gummed up vessel schedules.”

The baby formula shortage, spiraling diesel prices, and food prices routinely headline as part of the collateral damage, but Americans are also getting used to bare spots on store shelves ranging from mozzarella cheese to canned beans.

However, Chinese authorities have very recently announced that they will be scaling back Covid-19 protocols in the city. It was a surprise revolution in policy considering that only last week the Chinese government had announced that despite reaching their “no Co-Vid” goal, the city would continue to experience lockdowns.

After watching videos of the city screaming about starvation in what has been described as similar to themes from 1980’s dystopian films, the world is breathing a collective sigh of relief for the 26 million people whose lives are being restored.

Nevertheless, the ramifications for the United States and the West in general are yet to be fully felt. “No slicker or umbrella will protect the fragile U.S. logistics system when this container storm hits. The problems plaguing the Port of LA and Long Beach are still there, no matter what messaging we hear from the Biden administration on improvements. The dwell time of the containers, and the continued long line of vessels waiting for berth, are a physical reminder of the inefficiencies.”

And experts are saying that false hope is the standard narrative of the Chineses government. It could be a long time before Shanghai actually opens up and its ports are operational again– no date for re-opening has even been set yet. And there are reports of larges steel fences being erected as barricades, which is not promising.

The word is that it’s any port in a storm, unless that port is in Shanghai.



Language