SHANGHAI: With the Lunar New year approaching, urban workers heading home on Tuesday flocked train stations as the country’s mass migration, an early sign of economic recovery as officials confirmed a historic plunge due to COVID-19 curbs.
According to reports, the worlds second-largest economy slowed down sharply in the fourth quarter, making 2022 the worst year for the country in nearly half a century after authorities dismantled COVID restrictions that were in place for 3 years.
The Ministry of Tranport during the annual holidays has estimated the rush will see a total of 2.1 billion passenger trips nationwide between Jan. 7 and Feb. 15. State media reported that some 390,000 passengers were expected to travel from Shanghai train stations on Tuesday alone for what is known as the Spring Festival holiday – seen as the world’s largest annual mass migration before COVID.
International arrivals in the country also increased. On Monday Emirates Airlines, became the latest carrier to announce it would resume services from its Dubai hub to Shanghai this week, and would operate daily flights to Shanghai and Beijing from March.
Beijing abruptly lifted its strict zero-Covid policy after msssive protests emerged last month. The policy had a major impact on the country’s economic activity last year but the sudden relaxation of the rules has led to a jump in Covid cases that threatens to also drag on growth in the early part of this year.
Other than at the start of the pandemic in 2020, when full-year GDP expanded by 2.2%, last year’s economic growth was the weakest since 1976, when the founder of the People’s Republic of China Chairman Mao Zedong died.