China may issue special government bonds worth 4 trillion yuan ($565.7 billion) to prop up the country's economy hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, sources close to the matter said Thursday.

Such bonds would be sold for the first time since 2007, when China launched a state-run investment company in an attempt to earn greater returns on the nation's vast foreign exchange reserves.

Late last month, the Chinese leadership of President Xi Jinping decided to allow the country's fiscal deficit to expand to implement measures aimed at shoring up private spending that has significantly deteriorated in the wake of the virus outbreak.

The ruling Communist Party also endorsed the issuance of special government bonds, but it has not referred to the scale of it.

To prevent the bursting of asset-inflated bubbles, Xi had put more emphasis on budgetary tightening than on economic growth, prior to a recent economic slowdown largely as a result of the virus spread and a prolonged trade dispute with the United States.

In 2019, the world's second-largest economy grew at its slowest pace in 29 years, expanding 6.1 percent from a year earlier. The World Bank has said China's economic growth is projected to slow to 2.3 percent this year.

China sold special government bonds worth of 1.55 trillion yuan in 2007, and 270 billion yuan in 1998 in the aftermath of the "Asian currency crisis."

The new pneumonia-causing coronavirus was first detected late last year in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, a business and transportation hub with a population of around 11 million.

Since then, over 81,000 people were infected with the virus in mainland China, with over 3,300 deaths, according to official government data.

China on Wednesday lifted a months-long lockdown imposed on Wuhan amid dwindling number of new infections, a move widely seen as signaling its shifting focus to economic reconstruction.

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