The Covid-19 outbreak delayed this year’s Two Sessions until late May.
But this was not the only difference, as three delegates who attended the annual meetings in Beijing explained at a webinar on 5 June hosted by the Chamber’s LegCo Representative Jeffrey Lam.
Anthony Wu, member of the Standing Committee of the CPPCC National Committee, said there had been a “mobile quarantine” arrangement, with the Hong Kong delegates being tested in Shenzhen and again in Beijing, and remaining in the same hotel throughout.
Stanley Hui, member of the CPPCC National Committee, remarked: “The experience was a good example of how China has managed to contain and control the spread of the virus.”
Wu said the key topics were Covid-19 and how to reboot the economy. “China has done an excellent job with the lockdown and curbing the spread of the virus,” he said. “But the outbreak has also revealed issues, such as the reporting line for new virus outbreaks, and coordination between ministries.”
For the first time, no economic growth forecast was given, as the pandemic and U.S.-China trade tensions continue to create uncertainty.
“The message in the Premier’s report was that we have to prepare for rainy days, we have to tighten our belts – but meanwhile lend more money to SMEs to help them through the downturn,” Wu said.
Hui noted that a theme running through the event was an emphasis on the “Four Imperatives” – a prosperous society, disciplined party, deepening reform and rule by law – reflecting the government’s priorities.
He explained that another important piece of legislation passed this year was the Civil Code. “It is a collection of all the standalone laws since the 1980s relating to civil issues.”
Nick Chan, Hong Kong Deputy to the National People’s Congress, said the Civil Code was a reflection of Mainland’s civil law system, which is codified and therefore easier to understand.
Chan explained that each piece of legislation passed at the Two Sessions had already gone through a thorough review process, including a number of readings and meetings, before it is put to the vote, so it is not a “rubber stamp” exercise.
Other topics included the Greater Bay Area development, which is helping Hong Kong companies access the region. China’s renewed emphasis on stimulating domestic consumption will also provide more opportunities for business.
On the National Security law, the delegates reported that it had wide support at the Two Sessions to protect Hong Kong from further disruption and to ensure the continuing success of One Country, Two Systems.