The Annual Chinese New Year (Chunyun - Spring Festival) 15 day celebration has traditionally been marked by red dragon dances, fireworks, clean homes, new clothes, and lavish family meals. Families come together to usher in good luck for the New Year and to sweep out the woes of yester year.

Developments and advancements resulting from the 1970's Chinese Economic Reform have introduced new variables to the "now centuries old" New Year tradition. These variables have created major political, social, and economic challenges for China. Chinese companies have set up manufacturing exports along the southeast Chinese coastline to satisfy foreign demand for “cheap” China made product. Cities like Guangzhou (a key national transportation hub) have more than quadrupled in population over the past 40 years. Foreign demand for China made exports have created job opportunities that attract rural migrants around the country. Rural citizens travel great distances to embark on new opportunities, adventure in city life, and hope for a better future.

China's response to the global demand for “cheap” export goods has fueled the foreign market's hunger for larger profit margins and volume sales. China's challenge is to make as much as possible for as little as possible. The answer lie in low employee wages, little/no employee benefits, and substandard product quality. The scarcity of government labor laws and regulations have given Chinese workers little job protection. Time off from work is limited to the annual national shut down for the Chunyun Festival. This scenario is a recipe for disaster. The resulting mass human migration into a limited resourced transportation system has created a national pandemonium. While China's transportation officials have taken steps to accommodate the large annual influx over the years, it is impossible to control weather related delays, accidents from resulting from overloading vehicles, vehicle break downs, and natural delays in traffic.

As China prepares its resources to accommodate the upcoming 2012 Chunyun of the Dragon on January 23, the foreign world will also “feel” the ramifications of 200 million Chinese workers on holiday. Although the global market has had over 40 years of buying and selling in Asian exports to established “seasonal trends and indicators” to manage procurement effectively, can the Asian export market continue to be reliable and predictable? As the Chinese government responds to its citizens demands for employment reforms and regulations, how will this affect the global markets? Perhaps the market will cross that bridge when it gets there, or perhaps foreign markets can learn from its own industrial revolutionary histories. Perhaps history does repeat itself.

Lixin Fan produced a phenomenal documentary that illustrates the ongoing turmoil’s of a nation in transition from agricultural to industrial. He followed a typical Chinese migrant family through several Chunyun migrations and aired its effects in his documentary “Last Train Home” in 2009. The lesson of our yester years does not need to be swept out the door to invite future good fortune. They can be harvested and gleaned for nuggets of wisdom to build the solid foundations of a global future.
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Jenny Tsai

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