Coronavirus pandemic
Get more with myNEWS
A personalised news feed of stories that matter to you
Learn more
China’s Vice-Premier Liu He is the top economic aide to President Xi Jinping. Photo: Bloomberg

Coronavirus outbreak halts meeting of top China economists under Vice-Premier Liu He

  • The Economists 50 Forum, which includes China’s most prominent financial experts, has suspended its yearly gathering and urged members to take care
  • Meeting’s indefinite postponement underlines the disruptive impact that coronavirus is having on economic and social activities in China

An annual gathering of prominent Chinese economists led by Vice-Premier Liu He has been postponed indefinitely amid the deadly coronavirus outbreak, organisers said on Sunday.

The Chinese Economists 50 Forum, which includes heavyweight members such as Chinese central bank governor Yi Gang and banking and insurance regulatory commission chairman Guo Shuqing, was expected to have its yearly meeting on February 16 in the capital Beijing.

But organisers issued a brief statement saying: “The annual meeting will be postponed and the new date is not finalised. Please take proper preventive measures [against the virus] and look after yourself.”

Liu attended the annual conference in 2018 but he did not show up last year.

The group’s prominence has increased in recent years as Liu, the top economic aide to President Xi Jinping and the leader of China’s trade negotiation team with the United States, has gained more influence over economic policymaking and financial regulation.

The meeting, which is open to the media, offers a rare chance for the Chinese public to peer into top-level policy debate.

Its indefinite postponement underlines the disruptive impact that coronavirus is having on economic and social activities in China, where authorities have taken unprecedented steps over the past week to deal with the epidemic.

Confirmed cases have now hit record daily highs, health officials said, and the virus has killed at least 304 people and infected at least 14,380 in mainland China.

The fast-spreading virus has been declared a global health emergency, and on Sunday the World Health Organisation confirmed the first coronavirus death outside China.

A 44-year-old Chinese man from Wuhan died in the Philippines on Saturday after developing severe pneumonia, according to health officials from the country.

The man arrived in the Southeast Asian nation on January 21. He was the companion of a 38-year-old Chinese woman, who arrived from Wuhan after travelling through Hong Kong, Philippines Health Secretary Francisco Duque said at a televised briefing in Manila.

Purchase the China AI Report 2020 brought to you by SCMP Research and enjoy a 20% discount (original price US$400). This 60-page all new intelligence report gives you first-hand insights and analysis into the latest industry developments and intelligence about China AI. Get exclusive access to our webinars for continuous learning, and interact with China AI executives in live Q&A. Offer valid until 31 March 2020.