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Southern Chinese get frosty with well-heated north

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Calum Macleod

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Cool change ... China is experiencing it's coldest winter in almost three decades.

Cool change ... China is experiencing it's coldest winter in almost three decades.

CHINA'S coldest winter in almost three decades, including record low temperatures, freezing rain and snow, has left nearly 400,000 people in a ''state of disaster'' in south-west Guizhou province alone.

Workers there used bamboo sticks on Thursday to beat ice off frozen power lines, the state news agency Xinhua reported.

But for some Chinese, especially the urban residents of south China, who are denied the state-supplied heating networks of their counterparts in the north, the fierce cold snap poses a new, albeit less serious problem: how to charge their iPads and iPhones.

Chill factor ... iPads and other Apple products are taking a long time to charge in the cold.

Chill factor ... iPads and other Apple products are taking a long time to charge in the cold.

Extreme weather has sent temperatures in China diving to a national average of minus 4 degrees since November 20, the lowest level for 28 years, according to the China Meteorological Administration.

In south China, that translates into genuine discomfort and has reignited a decades-old debate about the lack of heating.

A line drawn in the 1950s split China into a northern half that installed and still enjoys heavily subsidised public heating, and a southern half that shivers through winter without a public heating network and must make do with private, often less effective heating devices.

This month, southerners have again expressed their displeasure at what they view as an unfair and arbitrary divide, and now they have new evidence to offer: Apple products that dislike cold weather.

On China's booming social media networks, south Chinese consumers are busy sharing their frustrations at the extremely long time it takes to charge iPads and other Apple products at low room temperatures.

The many novel, and apparently successful, charging methods Chinese users have documented with recent online pictures include: stuffing their iPads into sheets, blankets and duvets; smothering them in hot water bags and bottles; clutching them to beating human chests; sticking on heating pads; blasting them with hair dryers and electric fans.

''How can failure to charge be normal!'' asked Peng Bin on Thursday on the massively popular Sina Weibo micro-blogging service.

A fast seller last week has been touch-screen gloves, whose conductive fingertips allow users to access all their digital devices. In Jiujiang city in southern Jiangxi province, the China News Service reported strong sales of touch-screen gloves, selling for under $2 per pair last week, among young users of smartphone and iPads.

''In the winter, I can wear gloves to play with my iPad and cell phone, and they only cost $1.80, it's really good,'' said a female shopper who gave her name as Sun, the news agency reported.

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