China’s Push to Contain Virus Puts Late March Events on Hold

(Bloomberg) -- Chinese officials are postponing large-scale events that were scheduled for late March, suggesting measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus outbreak could extend into the second quarter.

Among the gatherings being halted is the China Development Forum, previously scheduled to start March 21 in Beijing. The annual meeting, which has drawn chief executives including Apple Inc.’s Tim Cook, Alphabet Inc.’s Sundar Pichai and Facebook Inc.’s Mark Zuckerberg, is being postponed because of the virus, according to a person familiar with the plans, who asked not to be identified.

It’s not just business conferences. A race featuring electric cars that was scheduled for March 21 in the southern province of Hainan has been called off. The China Basketball Association won’t be playing games until April, the Beijing Youth Daily newspaper reported.

Containing the virus, which has killed 425 people in the country and infected more than 20,000, has become Beijing’s top priority, something underscored by President Xi Jinping Monday when he told a meeting of the Politburo Standing Committee that the outbreak not only threatened economic growth but social stability. China’s gross domestic product could slow to 4.5% in the first quarter, from 6% the previous quarter, according to estimates by Bloomberg Economics.

That said, not every event has been postponed just yet. China traditionally holds an annual full session of its parliament in Beijing from early March but there has yet to be any official word on if this will be delayed.

The meeting brings around 3,000 delegates to the capital, including party chiefs, government officials, company executives, provincial deputies and military officer. A gathering of China’s top political advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference also runs concurrently.

Organizers for the Boao Forum For Asia, China’s answer to Davos World Economic Forum, said they are currently consulting with relevant organizations. The event is scheduled for March 24-27 in Hainan province. In a notice to guests seen by Bloomberg, organizers said that they are consulting with the Chinese government and “studying whether it is necessary to postpone the annual meeting,” though preparations are still under way according to the original plan.

Delays and Cancellations

EventOriginally ScheduledLocationDetails
Credit Suisse Asia investment conferenceMarch 25-27Hong KongScrapped
Sanya E-PrixMarch 21Sanya, HainanCalled off
Swatch Luxury Watch Show Feb. 28-March 6Zurich, SwitzerlandCanceled
Convention on Biological Diversity meetingFeb. 24-29Kunming, Yunnan

Moved

to Rome, Italy
Singapore Airshow 2020Feb. 11-16SingaporeSome companies have

withdrawn

Huawei Developer Conference 2020 (Cloud)Feb. 11-12Shenzhen, Guangdong

Moved

to late March via live webcast

China Basketball

Association games

Starts Feb. 1Nationwide in China

Won’t restart until April 1,

according

to Beijing Youth Daily

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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