China shuts down for a week to celebrate Spring Festival, new Chinese Year of Tiger
By:K J M Varma
Beijing: China on Monday shut down for a week to celebrate the Spring Festival, bidding goodbye to the Lunar Year of the Ox and welcoming the new Year of the Tiger.
In his Spring Festival message to the Chinese people, President Xi Jinping underscored the importance of unity of the country in forging ahead towards national rejuvenation.
The Year of the Ox ends on Monday and the Year of the Tiger, according to the Chinese Zodiac calendar, begins from February 1, 2022 and lasts until January 21, 2023.
In Chinese culture, the tiger symbolises bravery, vigour and strength that can lift people from adversity and usher in final auspiciousness and peace.
The tiger is the third of the 12 Chinese Zodiac animals, which also include rat, ox, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.
Folklore experts say that the Chinese have long admired the tiger for its prowess and strength, and the Year of the Tiger may be particularly auspicious.
The Spring Festival, celebrated yearly, witnesses the largest migration of people in the world as millions of Chinese people travel to their villages and hometowns to celebrate it and the Chinese New Year with their families.
This year also, China witnessed a huge travel rush despite concerns over clusters of cases of the Omicron and the Delta variants of the COVID-19 breaking out in Beijing and several other cities.
Beijing has initiated several measures to curb the coronavirus as it prepares to organise the Winter Olympics from February 4.
Nearly 3,000 athletes from approximately 90 countries and regions will compete at Beijing 2022, which will feature more events and produce more gold medals than any previous edition of the games.
In his Spring Festival message, President Xi stressed the importance of unity of the country in forging ahead towards national rejuvenation, saying that as long as 1.4 billion Chinese people work together for a shared future, China will continue to work miracles on its journey forward.
Addressing a gathering on Sunday at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing to celebrate the Spring Festival, or Lunar New Year, which falls on Tuesday, President Xi — who is also the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chairman of the Central Military Commission — spoke of the country’s achievements over the past one year despite the many internal and external challenges amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said that China took the global lead in controlling the contagion’s spread and securing economic growth, and it has made more progress in building the new development paradigm and promoting high-quality growth.
He also spoke of the country’s great accomplishments in bolstering national defence, stabilising Hong Kong and securing good governance, strengthening the fight against “Taiwan independence” forces and promoting reunification of the motherland as well as advancing major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics, state-run China Daily reported.
China’s Parliament in 2020 approved a controversial security law for Hong Kong, a move that critics said threatened the fundamental political freedoms and civil liberties in the semi-autonomous territory, also a major global trading hub.
Over the years, the CPC has tightened its grip on Hong Kong, quashing the pro-democracy movement.
China views self-ruled Taiwan as a rebel province that must be reunified with the mainland even by force. It has been conducting provocative military exercises close to Taiwan to deter the island from seeking independence.
Xi, 68, who is set to continue for an unprecedented third five-year term in power unlike his predecessors who retired after two terms, said that the CPC will convene once-in-a-five-year Congress in the second half of 2022 to review the last five years of work and draw the development blueprint for the period to come.
He is widely expected to be confirmed for a record third term at the Congress.