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Victory announced against the virus: postponed in the midst of an epidemic, the annual session of the Chinese Parliament will finally be held at the end of May to celebrate the return of the country to normal.
Victory announced against the virus: postponed in the midst of an epidemic, the annual session of the Chinese Parliament will finally be held at the end of May to celebrate the return of the country to normal.

The event, which usually brings together some 3,000 deputies in the solemn setting of the People's Palace in Beijing, will open on May 22, the China News Agency announced on Wednesday.

"It is a show of force," said AFP political scientist Willy Lam, a Chinese specialist at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Lam said "the message is that under (Chinese President) Xi Jinping's leadership, the country has contained the epidemic very well, much better than the United States" - where the virus has now killed more 'Americans that the Vietnam War.

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The annual high mass of the Chinese Parliament should have been held in early March. But, at the height of the epidemic crisis, it had been postponed, a fact unprecedented for several decades.

The plenary session of the National People's Assembly (PNA) is supposed to display the unity of the country, with the help of red flags and almost unanimous votes.

Gathering 3,000 deputies in Beijing seemed hitherto unthinkable when the country was subjected to drastic containment measures and that a large part of the Chinese were hiding in their homes for fear of contagion.

Now, the health situation "is gradually improving" and "economic and social life are gradually resuming their normal course", assured Wednesday New China, for which "the conditions are met" now to convene the Parliament.

"On foot"

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A few hours later, the Beijing city hall announced the lifting from Thursday of the mandatory 14-day quarantine to which all those arriving in the Chinese capital are subject.

However, this measure does not concern certain travelers: those coming from Hubei (the province at the epicenter of the epidemic and of which Wuhan is the capital), those coming from areas of China still considered to be at high risk, or those arriving from abroad.

The new coronavirus, detected at the end of last year in the center of the country, infected nearly 83,000 people there, including 4,633 fatally, according to official figures, before spreading all over the world.

After being slow to react and even suppressing whistleblowers, the government has taken drastic measures with the de facto quarantine of Hubei province and the economic paralysis of the country.

The convocation of the Parliament is "a sign that China is back on its feet, and that the economic machine continues to spin," said Willy Lam.

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According to him, this announcement also aims to reassure Chinese citizens after a sharp contraction in the economy in the first quarter (-6.8%).

The annual parliamentary session gives rise to certain ritual announcements, such as the objective of economic growth to follow for the current year.

- Wild animals -

In its latest forecasts, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) says it expects "moderate" growth in China of + 1.2% in 2020, before a spike of + 9.2% next year in favor of '' a hoped-for recovery of the world economy.

New China did not specify if all the deputies would be physically present in Beijing or if the parliamentary session could take place online for some of them.

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The event usually stretches over 10 days, time to record the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) decisions.

This year, 17 laws relating to health and hygiene must be presented to the deputies, this week said new China.

The program notably includes the prohibition of the illegal trade in wild animals and the strengthening of legislation to prevent epidemics.

After the upheavals of the "Cultural Revolution" (1966-1976), the plenary session took place ritually every year since 1978.

Since 1985, it has systematically started in March and has even started without fail on March 5 since 1998, as a symbol of the stability of the regime which just celebrated its 70th anniversary last year.

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