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Golden Week

The Chinese "Golden Week" refers either of the two week-long holidays around National Day on October 1, and the lunar calendar Spring Festival which usually falls in January or February of each year. Tens of millions of Chinese traval by air, train and road to family reunions, vacations or shopping centres during these holidays.  

CommentInsight & Opinion

Flexible holidays a better option for China

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 08 October, 2012, 6:28pm

The mainland's "golden week" holidays were sold by authorities as being about taking a break, relaxing and having fun. But as in the past, the government-mandated eight-day vacation for the Mid-Autumn festival and National Day was mostly about chaos and frustration. Clogged roads and public transport, crowded tourist attractions and shops, and higher prices meant many people wished they had stayed at home and worked. Companies and investors bemoaned being out of sync with the rest of the world through the closure of stock and commodity markets and the shutting of offices and factories.

The "golden week" concept was introduced in 1999 after the Asian financial crisis to encourage spending. Employees were forced to take a week off work three times a year for the Lunar New Year and labour and national days. The economy has since grown dramatically, consumerism spurred and the nation is considerably wealthier. Unsurprisingly, people now want to take holidays when they want, not when they are told to.

Pressure led in 2009 to the Labour Day "golden week" being broken into three shorter holidays spread over the year. In a nod to culture, tradition and family values, days off were designated for the Ching Ming, Dragon Boat and Mid-Autumn festivals. The move has proven so successful that there are now calls to scrap the National Day vacation. Common sense says the demands should be heeded.

Evidence of why was seen at the start and end of the latest holiday. With economic growth in decline, authorities hit on the idea of scrapping road tolls as an inducement for families to leave home. Infrastructure already struggles to cope with traffic at peak times and it is at breaking point during "golden week", when more than 500 million people are on the move. With an extra 13.3 per cent travelling on the first day this year compared to last, chaos reigned, with traffic backed up 30 kilometres in some places, expressways looking like car parks and frustration rife.

National holidays should be about culture, customs and remembering major historic events. There is none more significant than the new year and a week is understandably set aside. The founding of the People's Republic is an important occasion, but it is questionable whether there needs to be more than a day of celebration. It would be better to allow employees to take those days as they see fit, at a time that suits them rather than central planners. Flexible holidays are best for the nation.


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until Chinese factories mature and stop making demands on overtime, long illegal working hours etc............these "long holidays" are the only time workers are liberated.............any suggestions to reduce the length of these periods are bad news...........In fact, having two more breaks (May & Oct) is NOT what most workers want, since they are migrants and prefers to go home for a really long holiday..............in fact, maybe HK can adopt a French like summer long break too! I am sure most parents would love 4 to 6 weeks off during the summer, and just let business sleeps during summers - like in France!
And then the rest of the world will complain that China is not delivering goods during this time. The long CNY with up to 1 month still stand in production lines is already a pain in the a.s.s for most such big cooperates like Wallmart and Co.
What the Mainland needs is an annual leave regulation and workers accumulate annual leaves according to their length of service in a company. So, each worker can plan their long holiday according to their balance of leaves accumulated through out the year and the Mainland can avoid the concentrated mass movings along the (golden weeks) holidays.


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