China demonstrates victory over coronavirus with top political event

China's top political advisory body started its annual session on Thursday afternoon in Beijing, Xinhua reported. The opening of the annual session of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference begins after a two-month delay because of the coronavirus spread that originated in the central city of Wuhan late last year

Conference members would “tell the world about how China, as a responsible major country, has taken firm action and contributed to international cooperation in the fight against the COVID-19 epidemic,” Chair Wang Yang said in his report to more than 2,000 delegates in attendance.

Rank-and-file members gathered in the vast auditorium inside the Great Hall of the People in the heart of Beijing wore masks, AP reported. Other top officials, including Wang and president and leader of the ruling Communist Party, Xi Jinping, did not. Backed by massive state propaganda support, Xi has received plaudits at home for having contained the virus, even while the US and others question China’s handling of the initial outbreak.

The session will be followed on Friday by the opening of the National People’s Congress, the ceremonial parliament. Premier Li Keqiang is to deliver a keynote speech outlining economic and social goals for the year. It remains unclear whether Li will issue the usual gross domestic product growth target for the world’s second-largest economy. Given the economic devastation caused by the pandemic, the targeted GDP will likely be considerably lower than last year’s 6.0% to 6.5%.

Tens of millions of Chinese have been thrown out of work and it’s unclear how many jobs will return after the crisis passes. Not only have domestic production and demand been hammered, but China’s key export markets such as the US and Europe have also suffered massive job losses and drops in consumption.

This year’s meeting of the two bodies is being shortened to one week from the usual two as part of virus-control measures. Media access has also been largely reduced and only a limited number of reporters, diplomats and observers were permitted into the meeting hall.

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