Beijing Enters ‘Wartime’ Preparations to Prevent Virus Spread Ahead of Key Political Meeting

May 19, 2020 Updated: May 19, 2020

As the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) prepares for a key political meeting that will commence on May 21, authorities have enacted strict measures in Beijing to prevent an outbreak of the CCP virus among top officials.

The Party’s rubber-stamp legislature and advisory body convenes annually for the Lianghui, or “Two Sessions,” to enact policies and agendas. More than 5,000 delegates from around the country typically participate.

The Chinese regime announced on May 15 that the conferences wouldn’t be two weeks long as usual. Media reported on May 18 that the conferences will only last one week.

On May 17, Lu Yan, the deputy mayor of Beijing, said the city had entered “wartime” preparations to prevent the virus from spreading.

Meanwhile, a cluster of fever cases recently occurred in Xicheng district of Beijing, close to the Great Hall of the People, the building where the Lianghui is held.

Chen Xin, director of the Xicheng district health commission, announced at a May 18 press conference that several employees at the state-run Industrial and Commercial Bank of China headquarters, located at 55 Fuxingmen Inner Street, developed a fever—a common symptom of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus—on the afternoon of May 17.

“By the morning of May 18, 33 of them were treated at hospitals,” Chen said. He claimed that all employees were CCP virus free. They were diagnosed with infection of the group A streptococcus bacteria.

Strict Control

The Lianghui is normally held in March, but it was postponed due to the virus outbreak, which erupted in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019 and quickly spread across the country in January.

On April 29, the regime announced the new dates for the Lianghui. The advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, would start meeting on May 21, and the rubber-stamp legislature, the National People’s Congress, would start on May 22.

However, since the announcement, more outbreaks have been reported in northeastern China—Wuhan in Hubei Province and Guangzhou in southern Guangdong Province. Shanghai also announced a new infection on May 18.

Hong Kong-based newspaper HKET quoted several insiders in a May 11 report, including a delegate who will participate in the Lianghui, who said all attendees must arrive at Beijing on May 20.

Before May 20, all delegates must self-quarantine at home for 14 days; screen and report their body temperatures twice every day; and take a nucleic acid test before their departure for Beijing.

During the Lianghui, it’s possible that all delegates will receive a nucleic acid test again, the sources told HKET.

Meanwhile, the pro-Beijing Hong Kong newspaper Takungpao quoted Ma Fung-kwok, head of the Hong Kong delegation, on May 6 that all Hong Kong delegates would go to Shenzhen, the mainland Chinese city that borders the territory, together on May 19 and take a nucleic acid test there.

Then the Hong Kong delegation will board a flight to Beijing on May 20.

In Beijing, they’re only allowed to stay in a hotel designated by authorities, and can only travel to the conference venue. They aren’t allowed to travel elsewhere and aren’t allowed to accept media interviews, according to Ma.

On May 28, the delegation will fly back to Hong Kong directly from Beijing after the conference.

Zhang Yesui, director of the public relations commission of the rubber-stamp legislature, told state-run media on May 15 that reporters from other cities will not be allowed to enter the venue to cover the Lianghui.

Only a select number of journalists who live in Beijing and applied for access will be allowed to enter the Great Hall of the People, according to Zhang. Other reporters can interview delegates via video conferencing.

Zhang also said that the Lianghui wouldn’t organize a time when journalists can meet delegations from different provinces and ask questions, as is custom in past years. Instead, each delegation will name a spokesperson who will talk to journalists by video conferencing.

On May 17, Zhang Ge, deputy director of the Beijing municipal organization department, a government organ that decides officials’ positions, said at a press conference that the city government has arranged 1.6 million people to help contain the virus, such as screen people’s temperatures and patrol the streets for anyone who violates quarantine rules.

Meeting Focus

State-run media Xinhua reported on May 17 that there are seven topics that would be discussed during the Lianghui, chief among them how to prevent the virus from spreading. Other items on the agenda include how to develop China’s economy, how to alleviate poverty, and how to deal with “international challenges.”

China’s economic downturn has been exacerbated by the pandemic. The Chinese regime officially reported that the national gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter of 2020 shrank by 6.8 percent year-on-year.

Experts believe the true number could be greater. Leaked confidential government documents obtained by The Epoch Times show that in Shaanxi Province alone, authorities reported that the GDP growth rate in each city for the first quarter 2020, which ranged from minus 3 percent to minus 20.8 percent—more than double the officially reported rate for Shaanxi.