:China is delaying a key economic meeting after COVID-19 infections surged in Beijing, according to a report by Bloomberg News on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter.
The closed-door Central Economic Work Conference was initially expected to kick off later this week, when Chinese leaders, including President Xi Jinping, were expected to chart a recovery course for the COVID-hit economy in 2023, including more stimulus plans.
The Bloomberg report said there was no set timetable for when the meeting will be rescheduled.
The meeting is usually attended by members of the Politburo and heads of government agencies as well as provincial leaders, and they are expected to endorse a growth target for next year, although it will not be announced publicly until China’s annual parliament meeting, usually held in March.
The start date of the meeting, which usually lasts for three days, is not the same each year, with the conclave starting as early on Dec. 8 in 2021 and starting as late as Dec. 19 in 2018.
After China loosened some of the world’s toughest anti-COVID rules last week, the capital Beijing has seen rising infections with a sharp decrease in economic activity in recent days.
China’s Politburo, a top decision-making body of the ruling Communist Party, said last week that fiscal policy would be ramped up and become more effective next year, while monetary policy would be targeted and forceful.
While that should get growth back on more solid footing in the longer-term, a surge in COVID infections could put more pressure on the fragile economy in the short-term, disrupting businesses and making consumers cautious about venturing out and spending.
Pressured by COVID lockdowns, China’s economy grew just 3 per cent in the first three quarters of the year and is expected to stay around that rate for the full year, well below the official target of “around 5.5 per cent”.