Red-faced Guangdong authorities abandoned their plan to reinstate the May 1 'golden week' holiday yesterday after Beijing halted the beleaguered province's attempt to revive economic growth.
The province withdrew the Labour Day plan it had announced on Wednesday, and required all employers to stick to the central government's holiday schedule, according to an announcement on its website.
But it said employers or individuals who had already booked their journeys or desired a long vacation could arrange their holidays according to their circumstances.
'According to the [province's] regulation on annual leave, employers may still arrange a holiday for workers according to the companies' production and work schedules and workers' desires. Tourism authorities should ensure the public's demand for leisure and holiday is fulfilled.'
Guangdong authorities quietly posted the announcement last night - a time when most people were finishing their workdays and very few would pay attention to the change during the weekend.
The State Council stopped any special holiday arrangement without its permission on Thursday, the day after Guangdong had made its 'golden week' national holiday announcement. Leaders in the battered manufacturing heartland hoped that reinstating the holiday would encourage people to spend and help ignite economic activity.
Political analysts said Beijing's decision to stop Guangdong indicated dissatisfaction with many assertive decisions by the Guangdong government since the economic crisis began. Many said Guangdong Communist Party boss Wang Yang had challenged Beijing again by unveiling an unauthorised holiday scheme that contradicted the central government, and many other regional authorities were keen to pick up a similar scheme.
Legal experts said although Beijing said local authorities should not revise the national holiday schedule without permission, there was no such a law or regulation banning a regional amendment.
'Beijing's prohibition is more like an administrative ban to restore its authority. But I don't see any drawback if the public wanted the golden week and it boosted consumption,' said a Shenzhen economist who declined to be named.
An online poll by the People's Daily website suggested more than 93 per cent of the 8.5 million voters desired the return of the May 1 'golden week', and many said they were disappointed by Beijing's ban on it.
The Labour Day holiday will be a three-day weekend this year, from May 1 to 3. Beijing said it reduced the Labour Day holiday because national productivity declined and tourism attractions became overcrowded during 'golden weeks'. In its place, other one-day observances were made public holidays, and the 'golden weeks' for Lunar New Year and National Day in October remained.