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Happy Chinese New Year – Xin nian kuai le!

February 8, 2011

On February 3 was the first day of the Year of the (Metal) Rabbit.

The Chinese Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival, is the most important traditional festival for family reunions. Millions of Chinese take the week-long holiday from Feb 2 to Feb 8 to go home despite huge difficulties, like queuing for hours in chilly weather to buy railway tickets.

According to the China Daily the “Spring Festival travel rush, or Chunyun, starts from Jan 19 to Feb 27, and some 700 million Chinese, or nearly half the country’s population, expected to travel within the 40-day-long peak travel season. It is the “largest human migration on the planet”.

Today most Chinese are returning to their workplaces after having spent time with their family. Among them are about 130 million migrant workers returning from their home villages to their work in factories and construction sites in the cities.  They usually only get to go home once a year, during Chinese New Year.

Last week I watched a documentary on this topic: Last Train Home by Canadian Chinese filmmaker Lixin Fan.

I found it an incredibly poignant film, and important as it allows us a glimpse into the lives of the people who may have made our jeans in China.

No one remains untouched by China – whether you work for a multinational; buy toys for your kids or shoes for yourself.  Even if you run a small business in the New Zealand countryside, chances are that some of your clients are Chinese.

We are all connected now to China.

I’ve been a “Student of China” for the last 23 years – and I’m certainly not running out of new things to learn.

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