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What to Watch as China’s Legislature Finally Convenes

The Great Hall Of The People And Delegates As The 12th Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Begins
Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg
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After a rare delay forced by the coronavirus pandemic, China’s annual parliamentary pageant known as the National People’s Congress commences Friday, May 22. Some events surrounding it will be held virtually, though, as the country recovers from the outbreak. That’ll make it look and feel different from years past, when journalists from around the world converged on Beijing to hear from and interact with the people running the world’s second-largest economy. One thing that won’t change: Although it’s China’s main legislature, the Communist Party ensures that important decisions are made long before any proposals reach the floor.

A draft agenda was approved but details weren’t released. The session’s length will be “appropriately shortened,” the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing Zhang Yesui, head of the NPC Foreign Affairs Committee, but a closing date wasn’t given. Previous gatherings ran about two weeks, culminating in a question and answer session with the premier. It also wasn’t clear how much work would move online. Premier Li Keqiang said virtual conferences would be set up for relevant ministries when NPC deputies review the government’s work report. Despite such hurdles, Zhang said the session was committed to being as open possible.