In this week’s blog, I am very pleased to share an extract from Prof. Dr Wolfgang Georg Arlt’s excellent COTRI Weekly. His insight into what is really happening in China is keen and his note clearly identifies missteps from some of the world’s media when quoting “soaring numbers” of Chinese outbound travellers. COTRI Weekly and COTRI INTELLIGENCE are certainly worth checking out.

The Wood Dragon Year has started in China and everybody hopefully had a good time with family, friends, food and a lot of travelling. Some have used the relaxed atmosphere for surprising musings.

A lot of nonsense has been published about all the positive influences of the Dragon in the coming year, disregarding not only the negative sides of power abuse connected to it, but more importantly the fact that without the element – in this year, wood – fortune telling is disconnected from any Chinese tradition anyway. Chinese New Year celebrations are as far away from tradition and religious background as Christmas celebrations are in the Western world.

A remarkable article in the China Daily Global Edition by an associate professor of psychology at Southwest University of Science and Technology and a PhD student at Tongji University even discusses “New Year phobia”. The authors propose that the “contemporary society should be more open and inclusive, both preserving traditional customs and celebrations and using innovative ways to celebrate Spring Festival. While thousands of years of traditions should be preserved, it’s not necessary to rigidly adhere to every custom. While upholding cultural confidence, it’s crucial to welcome fresh ideas from the younger generation and respect their new approach.”

Are they really talking about the Spring Festival? Honi soit qui mal y pense(translation: evil to him who evil thinks!)

The number of Chinese travelling outbound during the New Year Golden Week has been eagerly anticipated. Official Chinese and careless copy-and-paste Western media report “soaring numbers” and “records broken”. Domestic, inbound and outbound results were all mixed together and only by looking carefully could the official number of the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism be found: 3.6 million outbound tourist departures during the holiday period. Compared to the 2019 official result of 6.3 million trips, this is still less than 60% of the pre-pandemic level. Certainly, it’s more than the 44% of 2023, however not yet close to 100% recovery.

More numbers and discussions of the results of Chinese New Year travel can be found in the Facts and Views section of this week’s COTRI INTELLIGENCE.

Peter Marshall

Founder: Arts
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