China announced Monday it had canceled the biggest political event of the year, the National People’s Congress (NPC), slated for March 5, as the Covid-19 outbreak continues to worsen, reported The Washington Post.
The cancellation suggests the virus outbreak continues to worsen with more than 77,000 confirmed cases and nearly 2,500 deaths across mainland China. As we’ve explained before, the real numbers are much higher.
China is attempting to reboot its economy as production shutdowns have crashed economic output. The most significant problem with rebooting the economy is that the virus must be completely eradicated first; otherwise, it will continue to spread across towns and factories – forcing even longer shutdowns and prolonging the crisis. This is China’s Catch-22, where in the past, it could lie itself out of almost every problem, now the more lying it does, the worse the situation gets.
China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, told officials at a Communist Party meeting on Sunday that the virus outbreak is a “big test” for the country, and policy adjustments would cushion the economy for a downturn. Xi acknowledged “obvious shortcomings in response to the epidemic,” warning that short-term financial stress could be imminent.
We’ve noted on several occasions that China’s economy remains paralyzed.
Xi said the “the epidemic situation is still severe and complex, and prevention and control work is in the most difficult and critical stage.”
The NPC and its chief advisory body usually begin on March 5 will be pushed out this year – this all suggests conditions in China will remain severe and highlights that Beijing is having a difficult time in controlling the “contained” narrative.
China backtracked on an earlier announcement that would ease travel restrictions on Wuhan, suggesting, once again, the virus outbreak is far from contained.
As we’ve noted, China revised the definition of what a confirmed case is to ease public fears about a runaway pandemic and get more people back to work. But explained above, its Catch 22 situation, as fake data for optically pleasing headlines of a crisis abating, will do more harm than good.
This is the first time the Chinese have postponed the NPC since 1995. China’s economy will likely remain in economic paralysis through March.