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China gears up for New Year with travel warnings

China gears up for New Year with travel warnings

China's President Hu Jintao has warned of potential travel problems during the Lunar New Year holiday due to a short supply of train tickets, a report on a government Web site said Thursday.
The Chinese New Year is the country's most important holiday and triggers one of the world's biggest annual migrations of people. About 188 million people _ more than the population of Russia _ are expected to squeeze onto trains during the hectic season.
"This Spring Festival, there is a very serious contradiction between supply and demand. The Ministry of Railways must stretch their minds to develop more convenient measures to resolve potential problems, ensuring a smooth Spring Festival," Hu said in a report posted on the Ministry of Railways Web site.
The weeklong holiday begins Jan. 26 this year, but many people started traveling last week.
Last year, the mass migration was halted in southern China due to the worst snowstorm to hit the region in decades, leaving millions stranded.
Government officials are especially concerned this year due to the growing unrest of millions of laid off migrant workers who will not have jobs to return to after the holidays.
Joblessness amid the financial crisis has increased the simmering dissatisfaction among the poor as hundreds of unpaid factory workers in southern China have taken to the streets in the past month to demand pay and protest layoffs.
Wang Yongping, a spokesman for the Ministry of Railways, said the country is gearing up for numerous other holiday challenges, including bad weather contingency plans, such as blocking off icy roads and clamping down on counterfeit ticket scalpers, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
A gang of counterfeit ticket scalpers was arrested last week in southern China's Guangzhou province, with police seizing 60,000 fake train tickets worth 10 million yuan ($1.2 million), Xinhua said.


Updated : 2021-08-04 23:16 GMT+08:00