Public health, national and economic security top agenda for two sessions
2020-05-22 09:29     Source : Global Times

China's top political advisory meeting opened its annual session on Thursday in Beijing, making arrangements for work in 2020 regarding six aspects and addressing the most pressing issues including public, national and economic security. 

Meanwhile deputies and members to this year's two sessions are urged to adhere to the mind-set of the "bottom line" as internal and external risks continue to grow, posing unprecedented challenges for China in pursuing its social and economic development targets. 

A total of 2,057 top political advisors attended the 3rd session of the 13th CPPCC National Committee that opened at the Great Hall of the People in downtown Beijing on Thursday afternoon, and the majority of them wore masks given the demand for continuous epidemic prevention and control work. 

Before the session started, all the attendees paid a silent tribute to martyrs who died fighting COVID-19 and compatriots who lost their lives during the epidemic.  

This year's two sessions started on Thursday after a 78-day delay due to COVID-19. Successfully holding the meetings also signaled the significant progress the country has made in fighting this arduous battle when most other countries and regions are still facing growing numbers of daily coronavirus infection cases. 

Wang Yang, chairman of the CPPCC National Committee, delivered a work report of the Standing Committee of the CPPCC National Committee to the session, highlighting a series of tasks the country's top advisory body completed in 2019 and addressing the work for 2020 in six aspects while urging political advisors to fulfill their duties in achieving a moderately prosperous society in all respects.

There are some key words for this year's CPPCC session. Security, safety and recovery all top the agenda of Chinese policymakers and advisors. Some stressed that more work should be done in safeguarding public health, national security and security in the operation of the economy. 

Public health 

Participants to the country's most important political event during which the government subjects itself to public oversight and pools the wisdom of national legislators and political advisors who are ready to seize the opportunity to review and reflect on China's response to COVID-19 as of now, making proposals to improve the country's overall emergency warning and reporting system in order to better cope with a possible resurgence of coronavirus cases and future infectious diseases. 

"I sincerely think the victory in combating the COVID-19 outbreak is a victory for Chinese culture," Wang Chen, academician and president of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, was quoted as saying in media reports when he commented on the anti-epidemic battle at the first "CPPCC member interview" of the session. 

"In Chinese culture, we truly respect people's health and lives, which is also deeply rooted in values that have been demonstrated during the whole battle," he said.  

In reflecting on the shortcomings and loopholes within the country's public health system, especially regarding the top-down emergency response system, many NPC deputies and CPPCC National Committee members proposed to establish a mechanism for direct communication between the central and local governments over major public health emergencies and to improve the current infectious disease reporting system, as the heavily invested system, set up after the SARS outbreak in 2003, was widely believed to have failed to function properly during the early stages of the COVID-19 epidemic. 

Some advisors also suggested that the National Health Commission come up with a detailed warning system regarding infectious diseases, especially unknown diseases, and classification standards of warnings on different levels, and then include them in China's infectious diseases prevention law.

NPC deputy Li Weimin, president of the West China Hospital of Sichuan University and one of the team leaders of local medical staff battling COVID-19, told the Global Times in a recent interview that his proposal to this year's two sessions will focus on the establishment of a direct and long-term reporting system for public health emergencies. 

In China, medical institutions generally lack alertness to public health emergencies such as major infectious diseases. When clinical medical staff saw early clues of the epidemic emerging, they are not clear about the reporting process, and failed to use the direct reporting system to inform of a possible epidemic in the first place, he said. 

He noted that the current direct reporting system still has the intermediate link of manual examination and approval after the medical institutions report information regarding infectious diseases, which will delay the reports. 

"The system is capable of monitoring known diseases, but is not capable of providing an early warning for new and major infectious diseases unknown to us," he said.

Editor: 郑思慧