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China Sets May 22 Start for Parliament Session Delayed by Virus

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imageStock Markets7 hours ago (Apr 28, 2020 10:36PM ET)

(C) Bloomberg. Delegates leave the Great Hall of the People after the opening of the Second Session of the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing, China, on Tuesday, March 5, 2019. China lowered its goal for economic growth and announced a major tax cut, as policymakers seek to pull off a gradual deceleration while grappling with a debt legacy and the trade standoff with the U.S. Photographer: Giulia Marchi/Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) — China will hold its highest-profile annual political meeting in late May, after it was postponed for the first time in decades as authorities worked to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress decided to hold this year’s meeting on May 22, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. The government usually uses the meeting to announce its annual growth target, defense spending projections and other key policy decisions then.

The gathering of some 3,000 officials is usually held in March. The Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, an advisory body that usually meets at the same time, was planning to start its annual session on May 21.

Any growth target released at the meeting will be closely watched after the virus outbreak pushed China’s economy into its first contraction in decades last quarter, with GDP shrinking 6.8% from a year ago. China’s economy is expected to expand 1.8% in 2020, according to a Bloomberg survey of economists, which would be the worst performance since 1976.

China’s top leaders have already softened their tone on the importance of reaching specific growth targets this year in the latest Politburo meeting on April 17, saying that the nation is facing “unprecedented” economic difficulty, and signaled that more stimulus is in the works.

The NPC had been expected to deliberate this year on a draft Civil Code, consisting of sections on property, contracts, personality rights, marriage and family, inheritance and torts, based on an agenda released before the epidemic.

(C)2020 Bloomberg L.P.

China Sets May 22 Start for Parliament Session Delayed by Virus

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