Spring Festival Rush
Posted by Joel Martinsen on Thursday, January 22, 2009 at 4:00 PM
Shenyang Evening News
January 22, 2009
The big headline today in many papers was the passage by the State Council of a medical reform plan that will bring health care to the entire country's population by 2011 (see the New York Times for more details).
Other papers focused on cross-straits issues: the son and daughter-in-law of Chen Shui-bian, Taiwan's former president, told a Taipei court that they were involved in money-laundering (see Xinhua for the story).
Today's Shenyang Evening News led with the health-care headline, but devoted most of its front page to cute kids waiting to take the train home for the holidays.
Time to go home
Underneath the image is a headline that notes that the peak travel time of the Spring Festival Rush has arrived.
The Ministry of Railways began tabulating ridership figures for the Spring Festival Rush in 1954, The Beijing News noted in a retrospective piece that ran in yesterday's paper.
It was in 1981 that the two-character abbreviationfirst appeared in the People's Daily. On January 18 of that year, the People's Daily spoke with the Ministry of Railways about crowded passenger trains:
All Chunyun traffic: from 31 million rides in 1957 to 2.2 billion last year
The newspaper's feature notes that overcrowding has dropped substantially. In the 1990s, it was common for trains to run at double capacity over the holidays, and even higher overcrowding rates were not unheard of. Today, 20% is the prescribed overbooking rate, although at peak times this can still push 70-80%.
Ticketing remains a problem, but this year, the Ministry of Railways declared that by 2012, those difficulties will be eliminated as well.
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Big in China: An adapted excerpt from Big In China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising A Family, Playing The Blues and Becoming A Star in China, just published this month. Author Alan Paul tells the story of arriving in Beijing as a trailing spouse, starting a blues band, raising kids and trying to make sense of China.
Pallavi Aiyar's Chinese Whiskers: Pallavi Aiyar's first novel, Chinese Whiskers, a modern fable set in contemporary Beijing, will be published in January 2011. Aiyar currently lives in Brussels where she writes about Europe for the Business Standard. Below she gives permissions for an excerpt.
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