Beijing decided to postpone the annual meeting of the National People’s Congress (NPC) this afternoon due to the outbreak. We hold the view that it is likely to be held in late March with about two weeks delay, and there is a small chance that it will be delayed into April (See: Expect More Delays to Restoring Business). The healthcare system would certainly be a top priority for discussion at this year’s NPC annual meeting.
Chinese government is putting more focus on restoring business operations, but the policy responses still fall short of expectations. The impact is going to be increasingly felt in the rest of Asia, and this time, countries will need to come up with their own measures to support the economy rather than waiting for Beijing to bail them out.
For the manufacturing sector, firms could resume work today if their workers and suppliers are both local, but the firms must pass strict health and sanitation checks. For instance, enough face masks must be made available to workers, a difficult requirement for many employers, as local governments have been commandeering available face masks. Those labor-intensive manufacturers employing workers from all over the country will have to wait for longer.
We are very skeptical that corporate China would resume production as usual on 10 February (next Monday). The number of new cases is still rising rapidly at over 3,000 per day and there are signs that some places outside Hubei province are in emergency with a few cities toughening policies on mobility. Several cities in Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces also announced very strict rules preventing residents from going out of their living compounds.