How technology has reshaped Chinese New Year

China Plus Published: 2019-02-05 19:17:01
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Note: The following is an edited translation of a commentary from the Chinese-language "Commentaries on International Affairs."

During Monday’s Spring Festival Gala, the now traditional four-hour extravaganza broadcast on the eve of the Chinese New Year and garnering the largest TV audience of any entertainment show in the world, a comedy routine called Platform highlighted the stories of four couples heading home for family reunions during the Spring Festival travel rush. It’s regarded as the largest human migration on the planet with over 40 million domestic journeys being made during a period of 40 days. Travelling at this time can be a daunting prospect.

High-speed railway services have greatly alleviated the pressure on China’s transportation system, especially during the annual Spring Festival travel rush, regarded as the largest human migration on earth. [Photo: VCG]

High-speed railway services have greatly alleviated the pressure on China’s transportation system, especially during the annual Spring Festival travel rush, regarded as the largest human migration on earth. [Photo: VCG]

But with China now firmly in the age of high-speed railway travel, pressure on the country’s transportation system has been greatly alleviated, and people now have a better travel experience, with considerably swifter journey times.

Apart from being able to travel faster, it appears Chinese people are also travelling lighter. Spring Festival presents for family members and friends arrive home long before the homecoming trips, thanks to the fast development of e-commerce and the logistics industry.

Meanwhile, high-tech digital products are increasingly taking up a bigger share of the New Year gift market. According to statistics from China’s Ministry of Commerce, several thousand smart speakers were sold within a short period of time ahead of the Spring Festival season via an E-Shopping trading post in a village in southeast China’s Fujian Province. Other popular gifts include robot vacuum cleaners, food blenders, companion robots, drones, and intelligent heated underwear.

In fact, high-tech products have become popular generally with the Chinese people not only during the festive season, but also in their daily lives.

At the first China Import Expo held in November last year in Shanghai, where China placed orders with global suppliers worth $57.8 billion, high-tech products such as the world’s smallest cardiac pacemakers, automatic coffee machines, 3D printed masks, and smart sportswear able to measure your heart rate, were all very popular with Chinese consumers.

All these are a sign of China’s consumption upgrade. No surprise then that the rest of the world is vying for a share on this lucrative market.

Last week, a new round of economic and trade talks between China and the United States ended in a positive atmosphere. More talks are about to kick off, with the aim of finally concluding a trade agreement. It’s expected that greater openness will bring more high-tech products into the Chinese market, inevitably bringing even greater changes to the lives of ordinary Chinese people in the years to come.

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LU Xiankun Professor LU Xiankun is Managing Director of LEDECO Geneva and Associate Partner of IDEAS Centre Geneva. He is Emeritus Professor of China Institute for WTO Studies of the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) and Wuhan University (WHU) of China and visiting professor or senior research fellow of some other universities and think tanks in China and Europe. He also sits in management of some international business associations and companies, including as Senior Vice President of Shenzhen UEB Technology LTD., a leading e-commerce company of China. Previously, Mr. LU was senior official of Chinese Ministry of Commerce and senior diplomat posted in Europe, including in Geneva as Counsellor and Head of Division of the Permanent Mission of China to the WTO and in Brussels as Commercial Secretary of the Permanent Mission of China to the EU. Benjamin Cavender Benjamin Cavender is a Shanghai based consultant with more than 11 years of experience helping companies understand consumer behavior and develop go to market strategies for China. He is a frequent speaker on economic and consumer trends in China and is often featured on CNBC, Bloomberg, and Channel News Asia. Sara Hsu Sara Hsu is an associate professor from the State University of New York at New Paltz. She is a regular commentator on Chinese economy. Xu Qinduo Xu Qinduo is CRI's former chief correspondent to Washington DC, the United States. He works as the producer, host and commentator for TODAY, a flagship talk show on current affairs. Mr. Xu contributes regularly to English-language newspapers including Shenzhen Daily and Global Times as well as Chinese-language radio and TV services. Lin Shaowen A radio person, Mr. Lin Shaowen is strongly interested in international relations and Chinese politics. As China is quite often misunderstood in the rest of the world, he feels the need to better present the true picture of the country, the policies and meanings. So he talks a lot and is often seen debating. Then friends find a critical Lin Shaowen criticizing and criticized. George N. Tzogopoulos Dr George N. Tzogopoulos is an expert in media and politics/international relations as well as Chinese affairs. He is Senior Research Fellow at the Centre International de Européenne (CIFE) and Visiting Lecturer at the European Institute affiliated with it and is teaching international relations at the Department of Law of the Democritus University of Thrace. George is the author of two books: US Foreign Policy in the European Media: Framing the Rise and Fall of Neoconservatism (IB TAURIS) and The Greek Crisis in the Media: Stereotyping in the International Press (Ashgate) as well as the founder of, an institutional partner of CRI Greek. David Morris David Morris is the Pacific Islands Trade and Investment Commissioner in China, a former Australian diplomat and senior political adviser. Harvey Dzodin After a distinguished career in the US government and American media Dr. Harvey Dzodin is now a Beijing-based freelance columnist for several media outlets. While living in Beijing, he has published over 200 columns with an emphasis on arts, culture and the Belt & Road initiative. He is also a sought-after speaker and advisor in China and abroad. He currently serves as Nonresident Research Fellow of the think tank Center for China and Globalization and Senior Advisor of Tsinghua University National Image Research Center specializing in city branding. Dr. Dzodin was a political appointee of President Jimmy Carter and served as lawyer to a presidential commission. Upon the nomination of the White House and the US State Department he served at the United Nations Office in Vienna, Austria. He was Director and Vice President of the ABC Television in New York for more than two decades.