Chunyun shows bitterness and sweetness of tradition

By Chen Chenchen Source:Global Times Published: 2014-1-17 0:33:02

It is China's travel rush season again. The 2014 chunyun, or this year's 40-day Spring Festival travel period, officially kicked off Thursday. Trains, buses, planes are all occupied by Chinese going home.

There was a radical argument a couple of years ago that as a feature of China's modernization has been mass migration, traditions like Spring Festival that require gatherings of the extended family no longer fit reality and thus need to be gradually discouraged.

Such arguments have been fiercely denounced online. No matter how globalization sweeps the world nowadays and how far people travel to live and work, every country still maintains a few indigenous festivals that allow family members to sit down, talk, eat and enjoy a rare moment under the same roof.

For Chinese people, in whose blood and bones is the cultural concept of "family," the bitter chunyun is always tinted with the color of warmth.

Nonetheless, it seems that technological convenience and transportation network expansion are never able to catch up with the ever-increasing demand of China's floating population.

According to official statistics, it is expected that 3.62 billion individual trips will be made during this year's Spring Festival travel rush, up 200 million from last year. Around 258 million trips will be made via rail, a 7.9 percent increase from last year.

The 2014 chunyun is the first one that China Railway Corporation (CRC) has to face after its establishment following the dismantling of the former railway ministry last year. Throughout 2013, 5,500 kilometers of new rail lines went into operation, among which 1,300 kilometers were for high-speed trains. By the end of 2013, China's total railway mileage topped 100,000 kilometers.

However, as Hu Yadong, CRC's deputy general manager pointed out at a recent press conference, there is still "a huge gap" between railway transportation capacity and public demand, and there is "no timetable" to solve the difficulty of getting a chunyun ticket.

To some people, chunyun is less painful than before. Although, the official train ticket booking website, crashes at times during chunyun, it saves many from queuing overnight in chilly winter anyway.

Thanks to the boom in e-commerce, many don't need to take along tons of New Year's gifts for relatives. Nationwide logistics networks of e-business giants help remove the burdens from the shoulder of chunyun travelers and deliver them to their home separately.

But for China's 1.3 billion population, there is "no timetable" for when they could get rid of their chunyun headache. The nation's gigantic population, far too often interpreted as the nation's dividend, means sharp challenges if they suddenly seek to all do the same thing within 40 short days.

Posted in: Observer

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