China on Thursday kicked off its truncated annual political season with the commencement of a week-long meeting of the top advisory body, signalling the abatement of the COVID-19 pandemic which forced Beijing to postpone the session for two months.
President Xi Jinping and other top leaders of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) were present at the inaugural session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). It will be followed by the meeting of Parliament - the National People's Congress (NPC) - on Friday.
China's Parliament, comprising the CPPCC and the NPC, was due to be held in early March but put off as coronavirus, which broke out in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December, brought the country and later the world to a standstill. A truncated session will now be held for a week.
Over 6,000 deputies from across the country would attend the sessions.
In Thursday's session, over 2,000 members of the CPPCC attended the meeting wearing masks. They paid silent tribute to the martyrs who died fighting COVID-19 and compatriots who lost their lives in the epidemic.
Its members, who are mostly nominated by the ruling Communist Party of China, included top film stars like Jackie Chan.
The NPC, often described as the rubber stamp Parliament with over 3,000 members, would pass a host of new legislations, including approval of Premier Li Keqiang's annual work report and the annual defence budget.
The meetings are being held under unprecedented restrictions with the media personnel needed to undergo COVID-19 tests, wait for six hours for results after which they would be permitted to cover the proceedings from a press room through a video link.
Addressing the meeting, Wang Yang, chairman of the CPPCC National Committee, delivered a work report to the political advisors who have gathered to discuss the major domestic political, economic and social issues and make proposals.
Authorities have collected and submitted over 1,300 pieces of suggestions on the work related to COVID-19, he added.
As it opened up the country, including the worst-hit Wuhan where coronavirus first emerged, China is keen to demonstrate that it brought the virus under control in a short time and restored normalcy.
Ahead of the CPPCC meeting, its spokesperson Guo Weimin told the media on Thursday that China brought the COVID-19 pandemic under control in a short period.
Guo said that by curbing the coronavirus in a short time China has effectively safeguarded people's lives and health, made solid progress in resuming work and production, and accelerated the restoration of normal social life and production.
Such achievements have showcased the country's institutional advantages of socialism with Chinese characteristics and demonstrated the excellent qualities of perseverance and solidarity of the Chinese nation, Guo said.
Altogether 4,634 people had died of the COVID-19 in China so far. As of Wednesday, the overall confirmed cases on the mainland have reached 82,967, including 84 patients who were still being treated.
China's economy, the world's second biggest, plummeted by 6.8 per cent in the first quarter of 2020 as a result of the pandemic. The future of China's multi-billion dollar Belt and Road Initiative is also uncertain post-COVID-19.