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China’s political advisory body meets ahead of National People’s Congress

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May 21 (UPI) — Chinese President Xi Jinping and senior Chinese Communist Party leaders attended the meeting of Beijing’s top political advisory body on Thursday, ahead of the opening of the National People’s Congress.

During the third session of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, held at the Great Hall of the People, delegates observed a moment of silence for “martyrs” who died while battling against the novel coronavirus, Chinese state-owned news agency Xinhua reported.

In photos published by state media most delegates appeared to be wearing masks. Xi was seen not wearing antiviral gear.

Wang Yang, chairman of the CPPCC National Committee, delivered a work report of the Standing Committee of the CPPCC National Committee to the session, according to Xinhua.

The gathering comes a day ahead of the annual meeting of China’s parliament, which was postponed due to the outbreak of the coronavirus that began last year in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

On Monday Xi applauded his country’s response to COVID-19, despite a delayed response to the epidemic in Wuhan that facilitated the spread of the virus across China and the world in January.

“In China, after making painstaking efforts and enormous sacrifice, we have turned the tide on the virus and protected the life and health of our people,” Xi had said in his speech at the opening of the 73rd World Health Assembly.

“All along, we have acted with openness, transparency and responsibility.”

Tensions have spiked between Beijing and Washington over COVID-19. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has accused China of destroying virus samples and not being transparent during the public health crisis.

The epidemic began to make headlines in January, after Chinese citizens like Li Wenliang, a physician, took to social media to issue warnings of a virus that resembled SARS, a pathogen that swept across China and Hong Kong in 2003.

Li died in February, after being accused by Chinese police of “spreading rumors.”

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