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Why Shanghai Doesn't Want To Talk About GDP

SHANGHAI — The most important recent piece of economic data in Shanghai is the number that's missing. At the annual new year session of the Shanghai Municipal People's Congress, the megacity chose not to set an annual GDP growth target, an unprecedented move for a country where local governments' political performances are largely tied directly to economic growth statistics.

Last year, Shanghai registered the lowest Growth Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate since 1991, at 7% — an enviable number in most parts of the world, but not in China that has been booming for more than two decades.

On the national level, China's National Bureau of Statistics recently released the country's 2014 economic growth total, at 7.4%, which was lower than the originally set objective of 7.5%. Though not dramatic, it is nevertheless the lowest national growth figure in 24 years.

Thus, Shanghai's decision not to set annual GDP growth projection for this year has generally been interpreted as a symbolic first step for China's initiative of adapting itself to the "New Norm" — a phrase that Chinese media has latched onto after President Xi Jinping used it last May, to refer to the fact that the country can no longer count on the double-digit economic growth of the recent past.

Xinhua News reported that the ongoing regional People's Congresses, held each January by various local governments around China, were a "showcase" for gauging Chinese officials' "new mindset in adapting to the New Norm.”

As most provinces, regions and municipalities all failed to meet their domestic product growth last year, they have all lowered their projections for this year.

"Economic performance shouldn't be the only factor of local government's assessment. GDP is no longer to be the supreme pursuit,” You Minjiang, Shanghai's CPPCC member told Xinhua News.

“The government should give more consideration to people's well-being in urban life and comfort."

Still, no one should mistake Shanghai’s decision not to forecast GDP as a sign that it has given up pursuing economic development. “Shanghai enjoys a relatively more mature economy than some others,” Liu Rui, Professor of Economics at Renmin University told Caixin. “So the city is better positioned to contribute more to improving people's well-being and thinking about issues like environmental protection."

Photo: Peter Dowley

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Geopolitics

New Probe Finds Pro-Bolsonaro Fake News Dominated Social Media Through Campaign

Ahead of Brazil's national elections Sunday, the most interacted-with posts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Telegram and WhatsApp contradict trustworthy information about the public’s voting intentions.

Jair Bolsonaro bogus claims perform well online

Cris Faga/ZUMA
Laura Scofield and Matheus Santino

SÂO PAULO — If you only got your news from social media, you might be mistaken for thinking that Jair Bolsonaro is leading the polls for Brazil’s upcoming presidential elections, which will take place this Sunday. Such a view flies in the face of what most of the polling institutes registered with the Superior Electoral Court indicate.

An exclusive investigation by the Brazilian investigative journalism agency Agência Pública has revealed how the most interacted-with and shared posts in Brazil on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Telegram and WhatsApp share data and polls that suggest victory is certain for the incumbent Bolsonaro, as well as propagating conspiracy theories based on false allegations that research institutes carrying out polling have been bribed by Bolsonaro’s main rival, former president Luís Inácio Lula da Silva, or by his party, the Workers’ Party.

Agência Pública’s reporters analyzed the most-shared posts containing the phrase “pesquisa eleitoral” [electoral polls] in the period between the official start of the campaigning period, on August 16, to September 6. The analysis revealed that the most interacted-with and shared posts on social media spread false information or predicted victory for Jair Bolsonaro.

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