Rising passenger flow, logistics mirror accelerated economic recovery in China
Train No. D2763 waits to depart at Zhongwei South Railway Station in Zhongwei City, northwest China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, Dec. 29, 2022. (Xinhua/Feng Kaihua)
BEIJING, Dec. 31 (Xinhua) — China is getting back to its pre-epidemic hustle and bustle as the country’s newly adjusted COVID-19 response policy promotes both work and production resumption, driving a surge in passenger and traffic flow.
Citing a number of high-frequency data, a report from CITIC Securities noted that transportation and travel in Beijing, Guangzhou, Shijiazhuang, Wuhan and Chengdu, among other cities, have begun to recover in the past week.
The welcome change occurred after Chinese authorities took a series of steps ahead of the Spring Festival travel rush, which allow passengers to travel without negative nucleic acid test results, a health code, a test upon arrival, or temperature measurements, thereby creating conditions more suitable for smooth and vibrant transport services.
A big data platform developed by Baidu Map, which updates the population flow data of Chinese cities every day, showed that the mobility index of Beijing stood at 9.56 on Monday — up 50.08 percent from last week — while that of Chengdu, Chongqing, Tianjin, Zhengzhou, Wuhan, and other cities, increased by over 30 percent.
Beijing Subway announced that the lines operated by the company saw 4.81 million passengers on Thursday, over 3.8 times the volume on Dec. 15.
Last Saturday, when train tickets for China’s upcoming Spring Festival travel rush were ready for purchase, the number of searches for train tickets rose rapidly, reaching more than 80 percent of the same period in 2019, according to Tongcheng Travel, an online travel services provider.
The tourism market has seen a resurgence in many places. According to China’s online travel agency Ctrip, ticket bookings for scenic spots in Beijing jumped by 177 percent from Dec. 19 to 23, compared with the previous week.
“Signs of improvement in public travel have appeared recently,” said Dong Zhongyun, chief economist at China AVIC Securities. “With people traveling more and transport and flight services getting more lively, the country’s economic recovery is expected to accelerate.”
Multiple logistics indexes have recently picked up improvements in market demand and business operations — indicating that China’s economic engine is on track to make a comeback.
Since Dec. 4, the traffic volume of trucks on expressways and railway freight volumes have exceeded the pre-epidemic level, while the collection and delivery of postal and express services also posted significant growth, said Tian Yuan, associate researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation under the Ministry of Commerce.
According to data from the State Post Bureau, some 4.3 billion parcels were collected in the sector in China from Dec. 1 to 12, up 5.6 percent from a year ago.
Freight volume — which directly reflects the economic situation — is to some extent seen as the “barometer” of the real economy. Jixi Railway Station, the largest railway freight hub in eastern China’s Shandong Province, handled 19,837 vehicles on Dec. 10, the best performance in the station’s 40-year history.
As of Dec. 3, the cumulative cargo throughput of Shandong ports this year exceeded 1.51 billion tonnes, surpassing last year’s total 28 days ahead of schedule.
Hangzhou Chuanhua Highway Port, one of the biggest logistics centers in the Yangtze River Delta region, saw a record high of more than 7,000 trucks entering or leaving in the past few days, with their transport services involving nearly 30 provinces.
In March next year, activities such as travel are expected to return to levels seen before Omicron hit in early 2022, noted Robin Xing, chief China economist with Morgan Stanley. “After that, the recovery is expected to accelerate, with the seasonally adjusted annual rate of GDP growing at 8 percent from the second quarter to the second half.”
The economic recovery is largely led by consumption, which depends on consumers having places to spend and daring to spend, with enough money in their pockets to encourage spending, said Xing.
With better foundations and more advantages shoring up growth, China is confident of achieving an overall recovery and improvement in its economic performance in 2023, said Zhao Chenxin, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission.