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China Labour Day narrative shows a people’s resilience in nation-building

China is a working country being an attribute which has paid off in the country’s image as a resilient and happy people. So, on May…

China is a working country being an attribute which has paid off in the country’s image as a resilient and happy people. So, on May 1, the traditional celebration of the day will assume a significant dimension all across China. The celebration is held in the country from April 30 to May 4.

When the world gathers in great halls, stadia and grounds to mark the Workers’ Day to mark the efforts of men and women who toil day and night to sustain economies, the events that shaped the day must be recollected. It was in the late 1800s that the American working class began their famous strike actions to push for the eight-hour workday and better rights for workers. The protest spiraled into violence and what is known as Haymarket Riot on May 4, 1886, with the resistance of the workers against law enforcement.

But in China, the holiday, which was established in 1949, because of its significance to the Chinese workers’ struggles during the period of the cultural revolution and the long centuries of the people’s revolution, the day has become the most popular Chinese holidays, perhaps displacing other traditional holidays such as Dragon Boat Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival.

The day allows people to celebrate Labour Day by traveling to scenic spots, visiting museum exhibits or performances, and enjoying the time off from work with family and friends, and to see their glorious country built by the workers. In 2022, the country saw around 150 million domestic tourists and grossed about 64.68 billion Yuan (about $9.77 billion), down 42.9 per cent from 2021, according to the country’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

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The day assumes much significance in China when it is recalled that the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) that was founded in 1949 and led by Chairman Mao Zedong was a product of the workers’ revolution. Before that, tracing backward was the May 4 Movement, the Xinhai Revolution of 1911 led by Sun Yat-sen, which routed the vestiges of the compromised Manchu-led Qin Dynasty, which lasted from 1644 to 1912, and the autocratic monarchy, the reestablishment of the national pride from Western imperialism and the journey to the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation to the path of prosperity it is toeing now were all products of the sweat, blood and toils of the proletariat.

China’s story is that of a resilient people on the path of rapid national development and modernisation. Even today, with its unique democracy or the avowed “people’s democratic dictatorship”, China continues to rate the collective interest of the working people at the peak of national developmental objectives.


Uduak Edward writes from Karu, Abuja

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