For Delivery Drivers, China’s Gig Economy Is a Race to the Bottom

For Delivery Drivers, China’s Gig Economy Is a Race to the Bottom
A delivery driver looks at his smartphone as he runs through a shopping and office complex in Beijing, Aug. 31, 2021 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

BEIJING—With most of China’s public health measures having been relaxed and no current surge in cases, this year’s May Day “golden week” holiday is the first to be celebrated free of concerns over COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. Tens of millions of people have taken advantage of the loosened restrictions to travel around the country.

Domestic travelers from around the country have come to Beijing and flocked the capital’s famous sites. Tickets to the Summer Palace were sold out over the weekend, and throngs of people climbed up a popular section of the Great Wall. Meanwhile, on social media, viral videos showed similarly huge crowds at tourist destinations around the country.

Chinese state media has been eagerly reporting on the travel boom, which they have enthusiastically presented as a sign of the country’s return to normal after the pandemic. Railway travel hit a record high Saturday, with almost 20 million passenger trips. Though it’s too early to measure the impact this will have on the country’s economic recovery, it’s safe to say it has been a boost for the local hospitality sector.

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