Millions of Chinese travelling for the May Day holiday

China’s Ministry of Transport expects 235 million trips, a return to pre-pandemic levels. The Great Wall, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou are among the most visited sites. Many fear delays in the vaccination campaign, which might become a political problem for Xi Jinping's administration.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - Millions of Chinese are on the move for May Day holidays, which last five days in China.

The Ministry of Transport expects 235 million journeys by train, ship and car over the entire period, a return to pre-pandemic levels and a reversal compared to the Lunar New Year (12 February) when the government imposed severe restrictions on movements.

One place that has attracted large crowds is the Great Wall at Badaling, 60 kilometres from Beijing. A high number of visitors is also expected in the capital, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

The current tourist boom will push up consumption, which so far has lagged behind the country’s solid economic recovery.

For China this is an additional sign that things are getting back to normal after the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, which was first reported in Wuhan (Hubei) in early 2020.

The official number of SARS-CoV-2 cases in the country continues to be very low; 16 were reported yesterday, all imported from abroad.

Despite this, visits to tourist sites will be limited only to those who can show a "health code", an electronic certificate on their phones to prove that they tested negative for the virus.

Meanwhile, concerns are growing in the country about delays in the vaccination campaign. At the current rate, health authorities will not be able to vaccinate 40 per cent of the population (560 million inhabitants) by June, as promised by the government.

According to data from the National Health Commission, just over 250 million doses have been administered so far. The current rate is about 4.5 million per day but about 10 million a day would be needed to reach the desired target.

Analysts note that Chinese pharmaceutical companies are unable to manufacture enough vaccines to meet domestic needs. The situation is also made worse by the government's commitment to foreign sales and donations.

In the event of failure, Xi Jinping's administration could face a political problem. At current rate of vaccination, the country will not cover 70-80 per cent of the population – the number required for herd immunity – before the end of the year or the beginning of 2022.

The United States and the European Union expect to achieve that level in the summer, enabling them to reopen their borders and revive their economy.

In view of this, China is in danger of having to keep its borders closed or under severe restrictions for months to come.