GP Insights # 347, 2 May 2020
China announced that it would hold its annual 'Two Sessions' meeting on 21 and 23 May. The announcement comes after the easing of restrictions in Wuhan and also a dip in the new cases.
Simultaneously, China eased its border restrictions and announced on 1 May a revival of its international travel for the business groups. South Korea became the only country to respond to China's announcements. The passengers flying between South Korea and China will be under a 48 hours observation instead of the mandatory 14-day rule after travel. The travel will now be fast-tracked with a swift immigration process.
What is the background?
China had been on lockdown since late-January, and there had been strong restrictions on movement and large gatherings. Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei announced recently that they would lower the emergency from the highest to the second level. It has also begun to take measures to ease the movement of people within the country. In this context, the announcement to hold the Two Sessions meeting and to allow essential business travel was made.
In February, China announced that the Two Sessions meeting that was scheduled in March had been cancelled. The annual meeting is significant because thousands of deputies and representatives from the country gather in Beijing to be a part of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's political consultative conference where essential policy announcements are made by the leadership.
With the fall in numbers of cases across China and early attempts towards restarting the economic activities, China began approaching a number of countries regarding the easing of borders. South Korea became the first country to respond to this, and the South Korean visits would be to 10 cities declared safe in China. China looked to ease border restrictions with Hong Kong but was met with strong opposition from the protesters. Easing border restrictions would help facilitate essential travel and ensure the revival of businesses. The movement will be allowed for those in businesses, logistics, industrial production, and technical services from 1 May.
What does it mean?
It is difficult to suggest that China is rushing towards normalcy. By holding the 'Two Sessions' meeting, China would like to show the world that it has the virus situation under control. At the same time, Beijing will be able to address the essential post-pandemic socio-economic and political requirements and policies. The need to ease border controls falls in line with the same thought, as the numbers fall, it is imperative to ensure that the economy does not collapse.
The need to encourage business travels is seen as an attempt to get the businesses on track.