China back to business as coronavirus-delayed congress meets

China back to business as coronavirus-delayed congress meets

China's parliament starts its annual meeting in Beijing on Friday as President Xi Jinping's government seeks to show the Chinese people - and the world - that it has controlled the coronavirus pandemic that delayed the key political event by more than two months and can do what is needed to revive the economy.To get more china latest industry news, you can visit shine news official website.

Some 3,000 delegates of the National People's Congress will meet for the next seven days in the cavernous auditorium of Great Hall of the People, built over 10 months on the western side of Tiananmen Square back in the time of Mao Zedong. The NPC and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), which met on Thursday, are collectively known as the "Two Sessions" and were supposed to take place in March until the coronavirus pandemic that had begun with a handful of cases of mysterious pneumonia in the central city of Wuhan, spread out of control in January, forcing the city and its surrounding province to be sealed off.

"The significance of the NPC is that it is actually happening," said Steve Tsang, who is the director at the China Institute at SOAS in London. "The NPC is normally more of a symbol than anything else and this time it has additional symbolism for both the party and Xi Jinping. It can be used to show that it's only because of the success of the leadership of the party and Xi Jinping in dealing with the coronavirus that China can hold this congress."

With China now recording only a handful of cases each day, some measures that were introduced to contain the virus have been relaxed. But an outbreak that has shattered the economy, and tested the country's health system and government as rarely before is likely to dominate the discussions.

As the State Council said on Wednesday after meeting to prepare for the Two Sessions, China is facing an "extremely arduous and complex" situation in 2020.

The performance of the economy in the first three months of the year - when coronavirus was at its height - gives an indication of the scale of the challenge.

Gross domestic product (GDP) shrank by 6.8 percent - the first contraction since at least 1992 when China began releasing data. HSBC has said the GDP forecast could be as low as 2 percent for the full year and could even be dropped altogether.Premier Li Keqiang will lay out the plans for the year in the traditional "state of the nation" address on the opening day; a speech that usually sets key targets, including economic growth and unemployment.

Key issues on the agenda will be economic growth and jobs, poverty alleviation, public health and new legislation, with some meetings taking place via video conference to ensure officials maintain appropriate social distancing.

"The virus makes the situation very complicated," said Minglu Chen, a senior lecturer in the Department of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney, noting that the authorities are dealing with a precipitous decline in the economy when they are usually announcing runaway growth.

"We haven't seen much information on who has lost their jobs. Who is struggling," she said.Officially, unemployment is at 6 percent, but the data does not include the millions of migrant workers who, without work, have returned home to their villages. As in many coronavirus-hit countries, others have been forced to accept pay cuts while small businesses have struggled to keep afloat.

Economists expect officials to announce new stimulus measures as the government focuses on limiting the fallout from the economic collapse and preserving social stability; one of the Communist Party's key policy objectives.

The coronavirus has already shown how the situation can spin out of control even in a society that is as tightly controlled as China's.

As the outbreak surged in February, people in Wuhan queued outside hospitals struggling to get treatment for family members while medical workers found themselves facing a potentially deadly disease without the personal protective equipment they needed.