Chinese people's increasing leisure time

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More and healthier leisure-time activities are a direct result of economic development and are a useful in indicator of social progress.[1] Now people in China enjoy more holidays than ever and have an increased amount of time available for entertainment and relaxation. This has spurned increased adoption of broadband internet, as people flock online to watch movies, play games, and chat with friends.

Under Mao, Chinese citizens were guaranteed leisure time, although they were only free to pursue party-approved activities. Karl Marx concieved leisure time as room for human development, while Mao took it to mean the time works need to recuperate for their next shift. Between 1958 and 1960, the party issued directives guaranteeing the masses 8 hours of sleep and a few hours leisure time -- although this was generally not free to duties used to immerse themselves more fully in communist ideology.[3]

Now students in China have no regular school classes for 160 days every year. The five-day school week was adopted when China reduced the work week from six days to five in 1995. On top of weekends without regular class, China's youth also enjoy three seven-day holidays which fall around May first, the Labor Day; October 1, the country's National Day and traditional Spring Festival, or Chinese lunar new year. With the extra spare time China's students are finding more free time for extra-curricular activities, although despite the extra days off from regular classes, China's students face tremendous pressure to get good scores if they hope to attend university. Most students in fact attend extra classes on weekends and throughout the summer.[2]

Ministry of Labor and Social Security figures show Chinese employees work an average 20.92 days a month and 2,008.8 hours a year, similar to figures in the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan. This results in increased demand in service industries, such as tourism, entertainment, service, cultural, sports facilities, transport and museum sectors. However, after years of neglect, they require expansive development to become a comprehensive; for example, in the United States, the leisure industry contributes the largest percentage of GDP and accounts for a third of consumption expenditure.[4]


  • Abundant holidays
  • Wide band Internet access
  • Variety of online entertainment
  • Rising costs of labour in China
    • Increased wages, purchasing power, and standard of living
  • Increase in availability of labour-saving household devices
  • Change in political climate


  • Some people haven’t realized the benefits from Internet
  • Some people are quite busy with other business on holidays
  • History
  • Pressure on students to succeed academically


  • More and more people choose to spend their holidays on playing online games
  • Changes in Chinese consumption and spending
    • Many people do shopping online instead of going to shopping mall
  • Increased emphasis on sport in China
    • Beijing Olympics


November 1994 Chinese Ministry of Education issued Opinion on Comprehensively Carrying Out the Educational Policy that Lightens the Schoolwork Burden of Elementary and Middle School Students
May 1995 Chinese government started double holiday weekends
1999 Chinese government started 7-day holiday on Labor Day, National Day and Spring Festival
June 2000 Chinese General Office of the State Council issued Notice about Strengthening the Construction and Management of Young People's Activity Venues
2003 China's GDP per capita exceeded US$1000, which is regarded as a solid economic basis for more holidays
2004 Government implements requried daily leisure hour for students
March 2004 Ministry of Culture and State Cultural Relics Bureau ordered every museum and gallery to offer free tickets to minors under 18 and 50% student discounts
July 2008 Beijing hosts the Summer Olympics

Web Resources

  1. "Leisure-time Activities", All-China Youth Federation
  2. "Chinese youth have more leisure time",
  3. "The Ideological Straightjacket on Leisure Time in China Comes Off", NISSI
  4. "Chinese find ways to while away leisure time", News Guangdong

Revision History

March 2005 Created by ChongGao
September 2009 Updated by Gerrit Ledderhof