China’s ‘Year of the Dragon’ ignites record-breaking Spring Festival travel rush


China’s annual Spring Festival travel rush, also known as chunyun, has kicked off in spectacular fashion, marking the beginning of the ‘Year of the Dragon’. Tens of millions of people are embarking on journeys via trains, planes, and other crowded modes of transportation to reunite with friends and family.

Amidst the vibrant display of red lanterns, Chinese knots, and bamboo dragons, the travel frenzy is not only a celebration of the Spring Festival but also a reflection of China’s robust and vibrant economy.

On the first day alone, China is anticipating over 182 million passenger trips, with bustling scenes witnessed at Beijing West Railway Station, one of the country’s busiest train hubs. The station, adorned with festive decorations like red lanterns and paper-cuts, echoed with the laughter and excitement of passengers. Operations at the station were smooth, a testament to China’s modern transport network’s improved capacity and services.

China Eastern Airlines marked the occasion by debuting all four of its domestically-produced C919 large passenger jets, reflecting the country’s advancements in the civil aviation sector. An estimated 2 million passenger trips are expected to be handled on Friday, a 94 percent increase from the previous year and a 15 percent rise from 2019, highlighting the sector’s growth.

Passenger stories add a personal touch to the travel rush. A traveler named Chen Peng shared his excitement about taking his family to Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, showcasing the positive impact of economic growth on individuals’ lives and aspirations.

The Spring Festival travel rush is not just a spectacle; it is a precursor to a predicted consumption boom in 2024. Analysts project retail sales to exceed 50 trillion yuan (US$7.04 trillion) during the year, providing a significant impetus to the Chinese economy. Wei Jianguo, former Chinese vice minister of commerce, emphasizes that this surge in consumption will boost the confidence of enterprises, encouraging increased investment and innovation.

The symbolism of the ‘Year of the Dragon’ aligns with optimistic economic forecasts for China in 2024. Analysts express full confidence in the country’s institutional advantages, emphasizing the swift and effective implementation of top policy blueprints. Projections suggest a continuous stable upswing recovery with an expected growth rate of around 5 percent.

Contrary to Western criticisms of China’s economy, analysts argue that China’s rapid economic growth contributes to global economic recovery. Comparisons with the United States’ GDP growth highlight China’s resilience and potential for faster growth once external factors like inflation and currency appreciation ease.

While acknowledging the challenges ahead, experts emphasize the importance of stabilizing the property sector, addressing local government debt risks, fostering new growth points, and sustaining the consumption rebound. The commitment to opening-up through international cooperation and the introduction of knowledge and technologies is seen as vital for developing new productive forces.

In response to economic challenges, the State Council has pledged efforts to enhance innovation, coordinate policy tools, and consolidate economic recovery trends. Various government agencies, including the People’s Bank of China and the National Development and Reform Commission, have announced measures such as a 50 basis points cut in the reserve requirement ratio starting from February 5.

As China embraces the ‘Year of the Dragon’ with a spirited Spring Festival travel rush, the nation sets the stage for a year of economic prosperity and resilience. The festive atmosphere, coupled with positive economic indicators, reflects a nation confidently navigating challenges and contributing significantly to the global economic landscape.


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