China Postpones Annual Parliamentary Meeting Due to Coronavirus

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China just postponed their biggest annual parliamentary meeting. The meeting that was scheduled for March, has been postponed because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

The state news agency Xinhua reported that the standing committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) would discuss the delay later this month.

Beijing has ordered a 14-day quarantine for returnees. Visitors must isolate themselves in hotel rooms or government-run centers. Residents must stay inside their homes.  Because of this, the discussion later this month will obviously mean that the politicians cannot join the parliamentary meeting on the 3rd of March.

“The health risk of convening the annual sessions early next month would be too high when the coronavirus outbreak has not yet been effectively contained,” the source said.
“The risk of cross infections would be very high for nearly 8,000 people … as well as staff responsible for administering the meetings, under the same roof of the Great Hall of the People,” the source said.

The NPC has 2,980 deputies while the CPPCC has 2,158 delegates.

The CPPCC was originally scheduled to open on March 3 while the NPC was scheduled to start on March 5. Both events last for about 10 days.

Wu Junfei, deputy director of the Tianda Institute, a think tank in Hong Kong, said the postponement would signal Beijing’s determination to tackle the outbreak, adding that it would be “much better internally and internationally” to wait until the World Health Organization determined that the outbreak was no longer an international public health emergency.

Wang Jiangyu, director of the center for Chinese and comparative law at City University in Hong Kong, said the “two sessions” was mainly an occasion to formalize the political leadership’s agenda.

“There is no major urgent political agenda for now, pushing [it] back for a month or two will have no material impact. Everything has to give way to fighting the epidemic.”

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