China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism recently released a report on the country’s tourism revenue and claimed an economic “recovery” as a result of the “Golden Week” national holiday, which kicked off on Oct. 1 to mark the 71st anniversary of the Communist Party’s takeover of China.
During the eight-day holiday, China received 637 million domestic tourists, a recovery of 79 percent compared with the same period in 2019, and 466.56 billion yuan ($69.2 billion) of tourism revenue, a recovery of 69.9 percent compared with the same period in 2019, according to official data.
The interpretation of this year-on-year recovery is that the number of domestic tourists received decreased by 21 percent year-on-year; the amount of domestic tourism revenue decreased by 30.1 percent year-on-year. Beijing’s “recovery” year-on-year claim hides the fact that the number of tourists and revenue have both decreased amid the current economic slowdown.
The Illusion Created by State-Run Media
The regime’s mouthpiece Xinhua News reported on Oct. 9 that various indicators, such as the number of domestic travelers and the sales from retail and catering companies, during this Golden Week showed a year-on-year increase. Train stations, airports, and scenic spots in the first-tier cities—such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen—and some second-tier cities appeared to be crowded. The reason is that this year’s Golden Week coincided with the Mid-Autumn Festival, which suggests that most people went home for a family reunion.
The so-called hot consumption reported by the media during Golden Week doesn’t indicate economic recovery. It can be foreseen that sales will drop back to pre-holiday levels. At that time, the media will definitely choose to ignore or conceal the situation.
The economic “recovery” deliberately created by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been routinely used in its propaganda campaign to support the legitimacy of its rule. The CCP’s propaganda has also been picked up by some foreign media whose reports are then used by Chinese media outlets to enforce the CCP’s narrative. For example, state-run media The Paper published an article on Oct. 9, titled “Foreign Press ‘Jealous Eyes’ on Golden Week: Behind the Flow of Hundreds of Millions of People Is ‘Chinese Confidence.’” The report parroted The New York Times: “The outlay of the weeklong holiday is a closely watched barometer of the country’s economic health.”
Can the Holiday Boost the Economy?
The Chinese media’s hype of the crowded tourist sites during the national holiday as a sign of economic recovery shows its false hope in boosting the economy via holiday consumption.
A week-long holiday will not create concrete economic operation and demand. The consumption rate from Golden Week was applied to the inner loops of a circular economy proposed by the CCP. How can one expect insufficient domestic demand to support a healthy economic cycle? The fundamental issue of insufficient domestic demand is the generally low income of the Chinese population.
The Chinese media has hyped so-called revenge spending after lockdowns were lifted amid the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the ongoing U.S.–China trade war and the pandemic have left many mainland Chinese in difficult financial situations due to unemployment. In this context, people’s incomes have generally shrunk. Only a very small percentage of the population, such as the elite ruling class, aren’t affected by the economic slowdown. The vast majority of low-income populations in large cities and rural areas can’t sustain the tourism and consumption illusion created by the CCP’s Golden Week.
Rather than going on a shopping spree, people choose to pack the scenic sites and visit nature to minimize cost. This indicates that people are cutting their consumption and demand.
From this point of view, the carefully crafted economic data from the Golden Week can’t conceal the reality of China’s economic difficulties and deceive the outside world. Domestic consumption is still far from returning to the level before the pandemic, and the CCP’s economic policies are merely political slogans.
Huidong Zhang was a general manager at Rightway China Real Estate in Dalian, Liaoning Province. He earned a master’s degree in business administration and then worked for Dalian Heavy Industry Group Co. Ltd.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.