Framework

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Li Guangqiang, a construction worker in Beijing, has been making the annual journey home to his village in Shandong province for 16 years.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Travelers surge forward to board a train at the main railway station, on their way to home towns and villages for the New Year.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Braving frigid temperatures at a rest stop, Li Guangqiang stretches his legs on his journey from Beijing to Liloucun in Shandong province.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Li Guangqiang sleeps during the 400-mile journey to Shandong province. Though it's 12 hours by bus, he prefers it to being packed like sardines on a train.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Li Guangqiang uses his cellphone to alert his family that he is nearing his destination of Shanxian after nearly 12 hours on the road from Beijing. From there he'll proceed to his ancestral village of Liloucun.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Li's son, Shengshun, 13, wrestles playfully with him in their awkward interactions after a year. Li finds the village dull and says he plans to stay in Beijing until he's 50.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Li pastes a New Year's greeting, "Happy Family," on the door of his uncle's house in their home village, Liloucun.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Li's wife, Sun Fengzhi, carries a head of cabbage into her home as she prepares a New Year's meal.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Sun Fengzhi, Li's wife, warms her hands after working in the family's freezing kitchen. She is left to raise their two teenage children as Li works in Beijing.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Dumplings await boiling, the treats usually are eaten at midnight on New Year's Eve.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

A small paper rabbit hangs in the window of a home where friends and relatives frequently visit.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Men raise a toast at a pre-wedding party in a restaurant. Couples often wait until Chinese New Year; for good luck, and to include visiting family.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Li Guangqiang, right, joins other village men in burning fake money in a wheat field where the ashes of ancestors are buried without markers. The women don't take part in the ritual because they are not considered to be members of the Li family.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Fireworks light up the main intersection as residents celebrate the Chinese New Year.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Li Guangqiang's son, Shengshun, 13, joins his uncles and neighbors in a New Year's Eve feast.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

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Long march home: mass migration for Chinese New Year

Every year, millions of of migrant workers in China make their way home to celebrate the Lunar New Year with their seldom-seen families. This is the world’s largest human migration, bringing the great gears of China’s booming economy to an abrupt stop as workers flee the big cities and industrial hubs en masse and head for their ancestral villages. For most families painfully split by economic necessity, these precious days are the most anxiously awaited of the year – a rare chance for rest, and a fleeting reunion.

See the full story by Megan Stack and Barbara Demick, “China’s annual long march.

3 Comments

  1. February 20, 2011, 4:50 pm

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by LA Times Photography, xoflowerstarox, Martha JiménezRosano, Luz Gámiz, Forest Photography and others. Forest Photography said: RT @latimes: photog Rob Gauthier went to China to cover mass migration during CNY, here are the photos http://lat.ms/fzZxaG [...]

  2. February 20, 2011, 4:55 pm

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by PhotojournSG, William Shepherd and Mickey Tachibana, rupeshnandy. rupeshnandy said: Long march home: mass migration for Chinese New Year http://lat.ms/fubVeX #HR [...]

  3. February 21, 2011, 7:34 am

    [...] Read the story Gauthier went to China for “China’s annual long march” and see more photos. [...]

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