By Erin Mendell
HONG KONG -- China's top leaders vowed to stabilize the economy as they attempt to keep a deadly coronavirus outbreak under control, offering tax relief and other measures to keep jobs filled and ensure the country is stocked with necessities.
The Politburo Standing Committee, the Chinese Communist Party's top body, stressed in a meeting Wednesday the importance of keeping people employed and strengthening policies to support small and midsize companies, according to state broadcaster China Central Television.
The standing committee, which comprises the country's top leaders, led by President Xi Jinping, also said state-owned enterprises would resume production smoothly. Work has been slow to start across the country this week following the long Lunar New Year holiday, which was extended because of the epidemic.
Separately, China's State Council, or cabinet, said Wednesday that it would offer rent and tax relief as part of an emergency plan to help small and private companies resume operations. It called on officials to provide machinery and raw materials to businesses, especially manufacturers of medical products based outside Hubei province, which is at the center of the crisis.
The cabinet promised to avoid mass layoffs and roll out more measures to ensure normal functioning in society and the economy. The cabinet meeting was held Tuesday, according to its statement posted on the main government website.
The economic moves came a day after the central government in Beijing asserted itself in managing the outbreak, replacing two provincial health officials in Hubei province with a trusted official from China's national health agency.
The moves also came amid a rising death toll that had reached 1,115 people globally by the end of Tuesday, along with more than 44,000 confirmed cases in mainland China, most of them in Hubei.
Separately on Wednesday, Chinese aviation officials urged other countries -- many of which are banning flights from China and restricting travelers from the country -- to ease their regulations. The restrictions have had a negative effect on the international aviation market and inconvenienced travelers, said Liang Nan, an international-affairs official at China's Civil Aviation Administration, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
Total cargo and passenger volume dropped 4.9% and 5.8%, respectively, in January compared with the year before, data from the agency showed Wednesday.
China imported 2.84 billion yuan, or about $408 million, of products to help contain the virus, including masks and protective suits, between Jan. 24 and Feb. 11, China's customs agency said Wednesday. With hospitals in Hubei overwhelmed and in need of supplies, Beijing has exempted donated materials from tariffs and taxes and cut some tariffs on some U.S. goods.
--Liyan Qi and
contributed to this article.
Write to Erin Mendell at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
February 12, 2020 10:14 ET (15:14 GMT)
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