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Chinese to have to spend more on Spring Festival dinner
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Chinese will have to spend more on the Lunar New Year, as prices for family reunion dinners that are catered or served at restaurants have surged, according to a market survey released on Sunday.

The survey by the Beijing-based China Cuisine Association covered hundreds of firms in large and mid-sized cities. The survey found that the cost of a Spring Festival Eve dinner had jumped by about 20 percent from last year and more than 91 percent of the restaurants had asked suppliers to show business licenses, in a move to ensure the materials' quality.

Traditionally, Chinese made their Spring Festival Eve dinners at home. But greater affluence means that more can, and do, opt for restaurants with elaborate menus -- and a staff to wash the dishes.

In addition, more than 3 million staff in the catering industry had said they would give up their holidays to work. And, more migrants who work in the service sector in big cities -- including the catering industry -- are likely to remain on the job by default, as they can't get home due to the heavy snow that paralyzes the country's transportation system.

Some local governments, such as that of Guangdong Province, have urged companies to grant employees a paid holiday after the Spring Festival.

Meanwhile, another nationwide survey, by human resources company Zhilian Recruiting, found that the rising cost of Spring Festival celebrations had become a burden to some low-income rural migrants who make their living in China's cities.

According to the survey, 80 percent of these employees pour a month's wages into Lunar New Year travel and gift-giving.

Migrant workers earn about 1,200 yuan (167 U.S. dollars) a month at places such as Shenzhen in Guangdong Province, China's first 'open city' for foreign investment. There, per capita gross domestic product exceeded 10,000 U.S. dollars last year.

(Xinhua News Agency February 4, 2008)

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