China delays major political event over coronavirus outbreak

Tom Belger
Finance and policy reporter
China's annual meeting of parliament has been delayed. (Aly Song/Reuters)

China has delayed one of its most high-profile political events of the year to help contain the spread of the coronavirus, according to reports.

Chinese state media announced on Tuesday the planned annual meeting of parliament for 5 March would be postponed, according to Reuters.

It becomes the latest in a growing list of major political, business and other events delayed because of the outbreak in and outside China.

Earlier this month the organisers of the Mobile World Congress scrapped the trade show in Barcelona, due to take place this week.

Within China, the country’s leading car show has also been cancelled. The Beijing Motor Show had been scheduled in late April. Meanwhile the World Athletics Indoor Championships, due to held in Nanjing in mid-March, was also delayed until next year.

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China’s annual meeting of parliament would have seen thousands of attendees gather for the event, which usually lasts more than a week. No new date has yet been confirmed.

One source familiar with preparations told the South China Morning Post (SCMP): “The risk of cross infections would be very high for nearly 8,000 people.”

The event would have also pulled officials and politicians from all over the country away from dealing with local-level responses to tackling the spread of the virus.

Zhu Lijia, a professor with the Chinese Academy of Governance, told the SCMP the actual impact would be only limited on decision-making. Key decisions are made by the Chinese communist party rather than parliament, which has only restricted powers.

Other trade fairs and industry events scrapped or delayed include Taiwan’s international book exhibition in Taipei, the Singapore Air Show, and the China Commodity Markets Insight Forum.