China's holiday system is notoriously complicated. Anyone thinking 2014 was the year of change found themselves sorely disappointed.
When the General Office of the State Council issued the country's official holiday schedule late Wednesday, it showed little break from years past. Many citizens were particularly incensed by a tweak in the schedule that makes the Lunar New Year's Eve a workday. The day had been considered a holiday since 2007, according to the People's Daily.Clinker Grinding Ball Mill
Most working Chinese are required to “make up” for days off from long public holidays—most notably, the Lunar New Year in late winter and the National Day “Golden Week” in October—by working prior or following weekends. The extra-long holidays were designed to boost the country's domestic travel industry and have had a big impact on the nation’s economy.
The result is a crush of travelers on trains, planes, roads and at scenic spots that many Chinese say is making the holidays a hassle. According to the Xinhua news agency, Chinese tourists made 428 million trips during this year's October holiday, generating tourism revenue of 223.3 billion yuan ($36 billion), a 21% increase from the previous year.
The seven-day break for the Spring Festival, as the Lunar New Year is also called, is the most important holiday in traditional Chinese culture, when hundreds of millions of residents return to their hometowns. Many in China’s online community criticized the government for making them work the night before Lunar New Year.Calcite Processing Plant
“The government constantly promotes traditional Chinese culture, and keeps calling on the people to pass on the traditions. But, their deeds contradict their claims,” one user of China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo platform wrote. “The eve of Chinese New Year is an important holiday to the Chinese people…. Are these policy makers orphans without any home to return to?”
Some pointed out that making Lunar New Year's Eve a working day will be a burden for the country's millions of migrant workers—many of whom work in factories hundreds of miles from home.
“Has the Holiday Scheduling Office considered those immigrant workers who have toiled for a year and expect a reunion dinner on New Year's Eve?” one user asked.
As of Thursday afternoon, a poll posted to Internet portal Sina showed that 89% of more than 62,000 voters were opposed to the government's decision to remove New Year's Eve from the list of official holidays.
The 2013 Lunar New Year holiday saw a record 3.42 billion trips made on public transportation, including 240 million by train. But some Internet users pointed out workers far from home will never make it back in time for New Year's Eve dinner if it's a working day.Iron Ore Separation Process
Cai Jiming, the director of the Center for Political Economy at Tsinghua University who leads a team researching holiday-system reform, told China Daily that the new holiday schedule will be inconvenient if employees are required to work late on the day before the Lunar New Year. He said his team proposed the government expand the spring festival to a four-day holiday from the current three-day allotment, but their advice went unheeded.
Some users suggested the unsatisfactory holiday scheduling could be a result of slowing economic growth in China, a trend that is expected to continue into 2014.
Because “this year's GDP didn't reach 8%,” one user speculated, “the government is punishing the entire nation by canceling the New Year's Eve break.”