China's top legislative body will deliberate "a draft decision" on whether to postpone the 10-day National Peoples Congress, due on March 5, 2020. As the nation grapples the pandemic brought by the novel Coronavirus, China is considering delaying the annual top parliamentary meeting. As of February 19, 2020, COVID-19 has killed 2,000 people and infected 74,000 more. This is according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The global spread of the virus has put many cities on lockdown and forced businesses to close indefinitely. China introduced quarantines, outdoor restrictions, and travel bans.

Enforcers require families living in affected areas, namely Wuhan, Qianjian, Xiantao, etc., to stay at home. Lockdowns and travel restrictions have affected roughly 170 million people. Almost 3,000 delegates will meet up in Beijing for the congress. China's ruling council may not take chances in having the virus spread among the parliament members of its highest organ of state power, according to The Sun Daily.

The Role of the NPC in China

The National People's Congress, which is usually abbreviated to NPC, is the most powerful legislative body in the country, under the Constitution of China. Annually, the parliament members meet up in full session for almost two weeks. They vote on important laws and select officials for important sectors.

The NPC is the state's ultimate power. As a legislative body, it is responsible for revising the constitution. It also selects and supervises the following organs:

  • The President
  • The State Council
  • The CMC of the Central Military Commission
  • The NSC or the National Supervisory Commission
  • The SPC or the Supreme Peoples Court
  • The SPP or the Supreme Peoples Procuratorate

The major organs of the government are the President, the State Council, and the National People's Congress.

The PRC Constitution, as China's supreme political authority, guarantees the power of NPC. The PRC grants the Communist Party supreme control over the media, military, and state. On the contrary, the NPC makes basic laws and supervises the other government bodies.3,000 delegates comprise the National People's Congress.

Every year, the members gather for a session that lasts for at least ten days, APF Beijing noted.

In Beijing, they unveil economic targets and pass legislation. If the congress will be postponed on March 5, 2020, it would be the first postponement since 1995. 1995 was the year that China adopted the schedule. For the last thirty-five years, the NPC session has been held every March 5. However, over 70,000 people residing in China have been infected by the COVID-19 virus, as of February 19, 2020.

Why the Chinese government may postpone annual parliament sessions

Scientists have stated that the virus COVID-19 has originated in a fish market in Wuhan. The city of Wuhan is home to 11 million people.

The NPC has convened even on March 5, 2003, when SARS was infecting thousands of Chinese citizens. However, this virus is far more problematic than the deadly SARS of 2003. The COVID-19 epidemic has killed over 2,000 people in just 2 months since the initial outbreak. The SARS virus, on the other hand, killed 774 people and infected 8,000 more.

Local government level meetings have also been delayed. Low-level conferences are supposed to be conducted before the National People's Congress. Cities on lockdowns, such as Qingdao and Guangdong, have postponed local meetings. Foreign affairs experts said, "if the parliament session will be postponed, President Xi Jinping will face difficulties in implementing measures to save China's plummeting economy.

Planned state visits to other countries could also be pushed back.

How the postponement will affect China

According to Xinhua News, the two-session meetings on March 5, 2020, maybe postponed. The advisory body pends the final decision till February 24, 2020. If the NPC will be postponed, the Chinese government is indeed prioritizing fighting the COVID-2019 outbreak. In this case, the deliberations of China's key policy issues, which include its future economic outlook and annual military budget, will be delayed as well. The remaining months of 2020 will be challenging as much as its first quarter (Q1).

China's top leaders, including President Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang, may face economic and political issues ahead.

Zang Tiewei, a spokesperson for NPC, said, "Today is a critical moment for China. In the fight to stop the epidemic, many NPC delegates are on the frontlines. As we speak, they are stopping the spread of COVID-19. It is a necessity to postpone the session meetings in March. This is a proposal that will be later discussed this February." Jan-Pierre said that it was practical for China to delay the sessions. Transport restrictions will make it hard for parliament members to go to Beijing.

Cabestan is a renowned political science professor in Hong Kong. He also said, "it can be dangerous to gather over 3,000 political elites in one place. Since the virus is airborne, cross-infection can occur." The epidemic has been affecting China's economy negatively.

Multinational companies couldn't resume factory operations in the country. As of writing, they are preparing to transfer assembly lines outside China. This costs thousands of dollars and high losses.

Tourism in the country has been greatly affected due to fears of contagion and travel restrictions. International and domestic tour groups in provinces fraught with casualties have been banned from operating. In addition, numerous airlines have reduced or canceled flights to China. Japan, France, the United States, and the United Kingdom have evacuated their citizens from Hubei and Wuhan. Another problem is the spread of misinformation. The World Health Organization (WHO) described this as an infodemic.

According to CNN, residents of Wuhan became outcasts in their own country. Hotels and neighbors shun them. Chinese people around the globe are now facing racial discrimination due to the notoriety of the virus.

Final words

Originating in the city of Wuhan, COVID-19 has spread to other countries and across the nation. As of February 19, the virus has claimed over 2,000 lives. Events and conferences have been postponed. China's ruling council is still deliberating whether or not to delay the National People's Congress on March 5, 2020. The country will face difficulties if it gets postponed. However, doing so will make China focus on the outbreak and safeguard the lives of the country's top leaders.

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