Shanghai has ditched its official economic growth target for 2015, becoming the first major city or province in China to abandon such metrics as government policy shifts towards a focus on growth quality over quantity.
The move signifies both a nationwide move to switch focus from hitting annual targets with some of the fastest growth rates in the world — now that those rates are waning — as well as an effort to de-link growth from promotions at the local level.
Growth in gross domestic product has long been a key metric to evaluate the performance of local officials, helping to determine whether they were promoted. But President Xi Jinping last year said that “we can no longer simply use GDP growth rates to decide who the [party] heroes are”.
At least 70 smaller cities and counties abandoned GDP targets last year, mostly in areas with high poverty rates and those with special agricultural or ecological value.
But the move by Shanghai — one of four Chinese megacities with province-level administrative status — marks the first such move by a highly developed urban area. At least two municipal districts in Shanghai had previously cancelled gross domestic product targets for 2015, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
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