China’s most important political event is due on 22 May – in a sign of life returning to normal
- China is going ahead with its most important political event on May 22 after it was postponed due to the coronavirus.
- It suggests that China is keen restore normality after months of anxiety, which saw 4,600 people die and the economy crippled.
- The annual session of the National People's Congress was due to convene on March 5, but the government announced on February 24 that it was postponed. It was the first time the event was disrupted since the 1970s.
- As many as 5,000 delegates from all over China meet in Beijing to vote on laws, appoint new officials, and set out political and economic objectives for the coming year.
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China has rescheduled its most important political event for May 22, suggesting the government is ready to restore normal order.
But on Wednesday a statement from the NPC standing committee carried by the Xinhua state news agency said that the event would go ahead on May 22.
Five thousand delegates from all over China converge on Beijing for the session, which usually takes at least ten days.
The occasion is marked by votes on major legislation, a reshuffle of Community Party officials, and the announcement of new economic targets and policy objectives.
"China is improving steadily and the normal economic and social life is gradually resuming," Xinhua reported, citing a statement from the NPC.
"With various factors taken into consideration, the conditions for convening the NPC annual session at an appropriate time are ready."
At the time of the cancellation, February 24, the coronavirus had infected more than 70,000 people in China, and had spread to at least 29 other countries.
It has now infected more than 3 million people, killed more than 210,000, and spread to more than 200 countries and territories.
China is keen to restore normality
Wednesday's move signals that China is raring to return to normal after around 100 days battling the outbreak.
Wuhan, where the outbreak began in December, ended a 76-day lockdown on April 8.
Since then, with varying degrees of success, provinces have allowed businesses to reopen, public transport to resume, and travel restrictions to end.
Despite the good news, the coronavirus has derailed China's economy.
For the first time since 1992, the economy shrank in the first three months of 2020, with GDP dropping close to 7%.
Beijing, where the NPC will meet on May 22, is still under a lockdown, though the government is set to ease those restrictions on Thursday by removing a rule forcing people to quarantine upon arrival, according to Reuters.
This year is the first cancelation of the NPC since the date for the meeting was fixed to March 5 in 1995, and the first time since the event was disrupted by the Cultural Revolution in the 1970s.
The annual session even went ahead during the 2003 SARS pandemic.
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