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.
On 13 February, Beijing decided to overhaul the leadership of State Council Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office (HMO), the top manager of Hong Kong and Macau affairs. It demoted Zhang Xiaoming from HMO director to deputy director, and appointed Xia Baolong, incumbent vice chairman of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), as Zhang’s replacement.
Xi has achieved a more effective central leadership and a clear-cut decision-making process. Ambitious policy initiatives such as financial de-risking and cutting industrial capacities were carried out forcefully and rapidly. But at the same time, as local officials become wary of potential wrongdoings, the centralization process has also caused inertia across local governments, resulting in potential risks in policy implementation.
Beijing continues to reform the state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in its own way in order to make them more efficient and powerful. It is expected that a new three-year plan for SOE reform will be released soon, as Vice Premier Liu He chaired an SOE reform meeting in November 2019 and announced to develop an action plan for the next three years.