Chinese cities turn to video technology to cut coronavirus risk at key meetings

Chinese cities are allowing delegates to attend the most important political meetings of the year remotely to minimise the risk of Covid-19 spreading in the run-up to the national parliamentary session.

One example is Xinzhou, a city in the northern province of Shanxi, where the local People’s Congress met on Wednesday, a day after its advisory body, the local committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Congress (CPPCC), held its session.

The local people’s congresses are the most important local political events as delegates gather to review the local government’s annual work reports and budgets. The National People’s Congress (NPC) is preceded by these local parliamentary meetings.

In Xinzhou, dozens of delegates gathered in one big hall, while two big screens showed that others had logged in from other venues using videoconferencing technology.

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Wang Zhigang, secretary general of the Xinzhou municipal CPPCC, told state news agency Xinhua that around 195 members of the congress had been present in the main venue.

He said the city had employed more than 100 technical staff from China Unicom to guarantee the stability of the network and the confidentiality of the meeting.

“The picture is clear and the sound is smooth. It feels like I’m there in person,” Qiao Wenquan, a delegate who attended remotely told Xinhua.CORONAVIRUS UPDATEGet updates direct to your inboxSUBSCRIBEBy registering, you agree to our T&C and Privacy Policy

“It’s my first time participating in the People’s Congress meeting by video. The process of the meeting Chinese cities, the agenda, and the discussions are all followed legal procedures and there’s no difference from before,” he said.

Video screens show those attending the Xinzhou meeting last week. Photo: Weibo

Other cities in Shanxi, including Linfen, Changzhi, and Luliang, made similar arrangements.

In the eastern province of Zhejiang, the local authorities told a press briefing on Monday that they would try to use videoconferencing to reduce the numbers gathering in one place.

In the provincial capital of Hangzhou, the local government’s work report will be delivered to members of the local CPPCC via video link, China News Agency reported.

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Hangzhou will also use to technology to track the health of the delegates attending the session, which started on Saturday and runs until Tuesday. Those attending will also have to use an app to report their health status.

Although cities across the country have said dates for their two sessions, the timing of the nationwide event – which was initially scheduled for early March – has yet to be announced.

However, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress will hold a four-day meeting that starts on Sunday, and observers expect it to discuss dates for the national plenum.Sign up now and get a 10% discount (original price US$400) off the China AI Report 2020 by SCMP Research. Learn about the AI ambitions of Alibaba, Baidu & through our in-depth case studies, and explore new applications of AI across industries. The report also includes exclusive access to webinars to interact with C-level executives from leading China AI companies (via live Q&A sessions). Offer valid until 31 May 2020.

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