Say hello to Chunyun, the chaotic mass migration that happens every Chinese New Year

Remember that old schoolyard fable warning that, if all the people in China – for some reason simultaneously going mad and deciding to destroy both themselves and the entire planet – were to jump up and down at the exact same moment, the earth would be thrown out of its orbit? Well, apologies to anyone who has been monitoring the situation since they heard this doomsday prophecy, but it’s total nonsense. If you were to map the movement of the population of China over the coming week, however, you would indeed see something that really is quite spectacular.

Known as Chunyun, the weeks immediately before and after Chinese New year (which falls on January 31 this year) are recognised as the period during which the world’s largest human migration occurs. An estimated 3.6 billion trips will be made across various parts of China in the coming weeks as families return to their homes to celebrate the end of one year and the beginning of another. And that means a lot of traffic jams, very cramped train journeys, and a people sleeping wherever they may lay their head.

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