China to Convene Congress After Covid-19 Fight

China will convene its postponed annual meeting of the ceremonial National People’s Congress, in a sign that the nation is recovering from pandemic.

A Beijing restaurant is open for dine-in business Tuesday, though its workers still wear face masks as China recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic. (AP photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

BEIJING (AP) — While the U.S. House of Representatives has delayed reassembling due to the Covid-19 pandemic, China, in a step toward returning to business as normal, said Wednesday that its postponed national legislature session will be held in late May.

The National People’s Congress, delayed from early March because of the coronavirus outbreak, will start on May 22, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

It was not immediately clear whether the 3,000 or so delegates would come to Beijing for the biggest political meeting of the year, or if it would be held virtually through videoconferencing.

A more than 2,000-member advisory body that meets in tandem with the Congress will start on May 21, Xinhua reported.

The two-week annual meetings are largely ceremonial, with the legislature rubber-stamping decisions reached by Communist Party leaders, but in typical years, they are a colorful spectacle in the nation’s capital.

The Congress’s standing committee, which handles most legislative affairs when the Congress is not in session, announced the May 22 starting date at the end of a four-day meeting in Beijing. Of its 170 members, 123 participated in person and 47 through online video.

With the epidemic situation improving and economic and social life gradually resuming, the conditions have been met for holding the session, a standing committee statement said, according to Xinhua.

The National Health Commission reported 22 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, including 21 that from abroad and one in Guangdong province, the southern manufacturing hub bordering Hong Kong. That was an uptick from recent days but a sharp decline from the hundreds and thousands of new daily cases being tallied until early March.

China has officially reported 82,858 cases and 4,633 deaths. Most were in the central city of Wuhan.

Authorities have relaxed restrictions on going out but maintained strict quarantine rules on those coming from abroad or other parts of the country to ward off a second wave of virus cases.

The National People’s Congress normally brings delegates by plane and train to Beijing, where they sit shoulder-to-shoulder in the colossal auditorium at the Great Hall of the People to hear a state of the country address from the country’s No. 2 leader, Premier Li Keqiang.


By KEN MORITSUGU

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