Chinese New Year

February 2, 2011 by staff 

Chinese New Year, (AFP) – go home for Chinese New Year used to mean squeezing into trains, dilapidated crack their way through the campaign.

But this year, many are opting for the comfort and the growing network of high speed trains in China, even if it means paying an average of more than three times – raising the concern of the not-so-rich are losers.

“The high-speed trains do not enjoy the middle segment and low-income population,” Zhao Jian, a professor at the Institute of Economics and Management of Beijing Jiaotong University, told AFP.

“They can enjoy the rich, giving them another option travel. But we build the tracks to promote economic development, not to serve one particular group of people. ”

China’s railway network at high speed, already the world’s largest, is growing rapidly. Railways Minister Liu Zhijun said last month it expected to reach 13,000 kilometers (8,000 miles) this year, a jump of more than 50 percent from 2010.

Trains offer an elegant respite from the overcrowding often experienced by tens of millions of people travel for the Lunar New Year, the most important festival in China, which this year falls on Thursday.

The one-week vacation is sometimes the only opportunity this year for families to reunite. And the main railway station in Beijing, many travelers said they would be happy to pay more if it meant going home earlier.

“I got up this morning to get a ticket, nor have I had at 10. I could not get a seat so I’ll be standing 16 hours on the train to go home, “Changming Zuo, who was heading north-eastern city of Harbin, told AFP.

“I prefer a high speed train at least I get a seat, but tickets sold,” said 24-year-old who works in the hospitality industry.

Wang Zhiguo, vice-minister of railways, said Sunday that so far, nearly 20 percent of all rail passengers had opted for high-speed trains during the period of travel.

But some passengers, experts and state media have even expressed fear that the fast trains have left people no choice but to pay more of their small salaries for tickets.

Weidong Liu, a migrant worker in the eastern city of Hangzhou, said he had to pay an extra 400-yuan ($ 60) for his family to return home this year – a third of his monthly salary.

“For us, 400 yuan is a lot of money. With this money we could buy many things for the festival,” he told the Xinhua news agency after failing to get regular at home Tickets for the neighboring province of Jiangxi.

The resentment has spread online, creating a popular buzzword – “bei gaotie” -, which means having to buy more expensive tickets because the normal trains are no longer available.

“The Ministry of Railways said problems during the Chinese New Year arise because there are not enough transmission capacity, adding that this (capacity) significantly increased this year,” one user online wrote on Web’s most popular portal.

“But unfortunately, they only increased transport capacity of high speed trains, which are too expensive for migrant workers, who have now set up their bikes home.”

Gerald Ollivier, senior infrastructure specialist at the World Bank in China, however, says that the railways at high speeds could actually benefit the poorest of the population.

“Part of the population has grown from traditional trains travel at high speed railway, which releases the seats, they would have used the traditional train,” he said.

“The high speed train essentially expands the range of options available for travel to the Chinese population. But the real test is whether the trains are full at peak hours, and if so, then it is demand. ”

Copyright © 2011 AFP. All rights reserved.

Honor the Year of the Rabbit on a tasty feast. Here, the celebrity chef Ming Tsai shares his recipe for ginger and star anise braised chicken steamed rice.
4 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into pieces, roll 1/2-inch, cut or conventionally
2 large onions, 1/2-inch dice
1-teaspoon black pepper
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 / 4 bunch flat-leaf parsley
2 star anise
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1 / 2 cup naturally brewed soy sauce or tamari sauce naturally fermented
2 quarts chicken broth fresh or low-sodium canned chicken broth and a little more if necessary
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
A 5 – to 6-pound whole chicken, wing tips folded back
1. In a stockpot or other large, wide pot or large casserole, combine celery, carrots, onions, pepper, bay leaves, thyme, parsley, anise, ginger and soy sauce. Add stock and season with salt and pepper.

2. Season the chicken inside and out with salt and pepper. Add chicken to pan, breast side up. It must be completely covered with stock, but if not, add more.

3. Cover and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 penalty minutes. Turn off heat and let stand the saucepan, covered, 30 minutes to 1 hour (do not cook the chicken again after 30 minutes). Remove chicken and strain the broth, reserving the vegetables. Cut the chicken and serve with vegetables and bowls of broth.

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