Feb 23, 2018

Key Beijing meetings coming up

The Great Hall of the People, located on the west of Tiananmen Square, where the "Two Meetings" are held each year. Photo: Zhang Peng / LightRocket via Getty Images

Just ahead of the annual "Two Meetings" in early March, the Communist Party's Central Committee (CPCC) may hold the Third Plenum — a move that would be unexpectedly earlier than normal in the year and could highlight Chinese President Xi Jinping's resolve to implement reforms.

The key decisions are rumored to be related to possible restructuring of the financial regulatory system as well as the replacement for Zhou Xiaochuan as head of the People's Bank of China. Reuters reports Xi confidant Liu He has emerged as a front runner to head China’s central bank.

Background: Every March, Beijing holds the "Two Meetings" of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and the National People's Congress (NPC). This year they open on March 3 and March 5, respectively.

But the most important meeting, which will happen before “Two Meetings,” will be what Bloomberg reports is the Third Plenum, though so far there’s been no official announcement. According to Bloomberg:

"The party’s top 400 officials were expected to gather in Beijing ahead of annual legislative meetings next month, according to four people with knowledge of the matter. The session would approve personnel appointments and government restructuring decisions to be publicly ratified by the legislature."

My thought bubble: If this meeting is the Third Plenum then it's quite striking that there have been three of these plenums since the 19th Party Congress in October.

  • Usually a Third Plenum is held much later in the year, and one would expect the key personnel and bureaucratic restructuring decisions to have been made at the prior Second Plenum.
  • Assuming Xi gets his way on these personnel and restructuring issues, and I believe he will, then there are really no excuses left for why economic reform has stalled.
  • If Liu does get all these big new titles, people may wonder what exactly Premier Li Keqiang will be doing. It is starting to look like Xi is planning to use Liu to marginalize Li — in a similar manner as former Chinese paramount leader Deng Xiaoping marginalized Premier Li Peng with Zhu Rongji in the early 1990s.

Go deeper

World coronavirus updates: Cases surge past 720,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

There are now more than 720,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus around the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins. The virus has now killed more than 33,000 people — with Italy alone reporting over 10,000 deaths.

The big picture: Governments around the world have stepped up public health and economic measures to stop the spread of the virus and soften the financial impact. In the U.S., now the site of the largest outbreak in the world, President Trump said Sunday that his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 718,685 — Total deaths: 33,881 — Total recoveries: 149,076.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 139,675 — Total deaths: 2,436 — Total recoveries: 2,661.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump says his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30.
  4. Public health updates: Fauci says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from virus.
  5. State updates: Louisiana governor says state is on track to exceed ventilator capacity by end of this week — Cuomo says Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "panicked" some people into fleeing New York
  6. World updates: Italy on Sunday reports 756 new deaths, bringing its total 10,779. Spain reports almost 840 dead, another new daily record that bring its total to over 6,500.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Trump says peak coronavirus deaths in 2 weeks, extends shutdown

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

President Trump is extending his administration's "15 days to slow the spread" shutdown guidelines for an additional month in the face of mounting coronavirus infections and deaths and pressure from public health officials and governors.

Driving the news: With the original 15-day period that was announced March 16 about to end, officials around the country had been bracing for a premature call to return to normalcy from a president who's been venting lately that the prescription for containing the virus could be worse than the impacts of the virus itself.

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