By Gabriel D. Crossley
BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese state media on Thursday warned against any “nitpicking” as Beijing portrayed the Phase 1 trade deal with United States and its new commitments to massive purchases of American goods as a boon for China’s economy.
In return for some tariff relief, China agreed to buy at least $200 billion in additional U.S. goods and services over two years, including $32 billion more in imports of U.S. farm products – targets some analysts say may be tough to meet.
In the world’s most populous nation, coverage was tightly managed and the trade deal quickly dropped out of the top 10 trending topics on the Twitter-like Weibo platform.
A person who works in censorship at Chinese social media giant ByteDance and a senior official at a state-backed media outlet told Reuters they had been instructed only to use official reports on the deal – guidance that is not unusual for sensitive political news.
Official media and government statements were upbeat with the People’s Daily saying that boosting agricultural imports will “enrich the common people’s dining tables.”
An article in the same publication which bore the pen name “Zhong Sheng”, usually used to express its views on foreign policy, said the pact was in line with China’s reforms, opening up and the push for high-quality growth.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the Phase 1 agreement was good for both countries and the world when asked if he thought the deal was unfair.
China’s Ministry of Commerce, which would normally comment on trade matters, earlier this week canceled its regular Thursday news briefing.
Robust debate was, however, not encouraged.
An editorial in the Global Times, a tabloid run by the People’s Daily, stated that debating “about who had lost or gained is shallow.”
“We urge individuals and forces to exercise some restraint in their nitpicking of the agreement and bad-mouthing future trade negotiations,” it said.
The deal comes at a welcome time for President Xi Jinping, who faces a slowing economy, unrest in Hong Kong, and the recent re-election of the pro-independence party’s President Tsai Ing-wen in Taiwan, said Wang Yiwei, a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing.
“That China hasn’t been defeated completely is already in itself a success,” he said.
Some people on both the U.S. and Chinese sides are not satisfied with the agreement, but that is a good thing, said a post by Taoran Notes, an influential WeChat account run by the Economic Daily.
A deal where just one side was happy would “cause no end of trouble,” it said.
(Reporting by Gabriel Crossley; Additional reporting by Liangping Gao and Cate Cadell in Beijing and Samuel Shen in Shanghai; Editing by Tony Munroe and Edwina Gibbs)
Social media use linked with depression, secondary trauma during COVID-19 – Science Daily
Can’t stop checking social media for the latest COVID-19 health information? You might want to take a break, according to researchers at Penn State and Jinan University who discovered that excessive use of social media for COVID-19 health information is related to both depression and secondary trauma.
“We found that social media use was rewarding up to a point, as it provided informational, emotional and peer support related to COVID-19 health topics,” said Bu Zhong, associate professor of journalism, Penn State. “However, excessive use of social media led to mental health issues. The results imply that taking a social media break may promote well-being during the pandemic, which is crucial to mitigating mental health harm inflicted by the pandemic.”
The study, which published online on Aug. 15 in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, included 320 participants living in urban districts of Wuhan, China. In February 2020, the team gave the participants an online survey that investigated how they accessed and shared health information with family members, friends and colleagues on social media, specifically WeChat, China’s most popular social media mobile app.
The team used an instrument created to measure Facebook addiction to assess participants’ use of WeChat. Using a 5-point Likert-type scale, ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree, the survey assessed participants’ views of WeChat in providing them with informational, emotional and peer support. The survey also assessed participants’ health behavior changes as a result of using social media.
Statements related to informational support included, “I use WeChat to gain information about how to manage the coronavirus epidemic,” and “If I have a question or need help related to the coronavirus epidemic, I can usually find the answers on WeChat.” Statements related to emotional support included, “My stress levels go down while I’m engaging with others on WeChat,” and “The health information on WeChat helps me alleviate feelings of loneliness.” Statements related to peer support included, “I use WeChat to share practical advice and suggestions about managing the coronavirus epidemic,” and “I have used some of the information I learned from WeChat friends as part of my management strategies for coping with the coronavirus epidemic.”
The survey also investigated participants’ health behavior changes related to the use of WeChat, asking them to rate statements such as, “The health information on WeChat has changed many of my health behaviors, such as but not limited to wearing face masks, using sanitizer, or washing hands.”
To assess depression, the researchers used a 21-item Depression Anxiety Stress Scale in which participants rated statements such as, “I couldn’t seem to experience any positive feeling at all,” and “I felt that life was meaningless.”
According to Zhong, secondary trauma refers to the behaviors and emotions resulting from knowledge about a traumatizing event experienced by a significant other. Using the Secondary Trauma Stress Scale, the researchers asked respondents to rate statements such as, “My heart started pounding when I thought about the coronavirus epidemic,” and “I had disturbing dreams about the coronavirus epidemic.”
“We found that the Wuhan residents obtained tremendous informational and peer support but slightly less emotional support when they accessed and shared health information about COVID-on WeChat,” said Zhong. “The participants also reported a series of health behavior changes, such as increased hand washing and use of face masks.
More than half of the respondents reported some level of depression, with nearly 20% of them suffering moderate or severe depression. Among the respondents who reported secondary trauma, the majority reported a low (80%) level of trauma, while fewer reported moderate (13%) and high (7%) levels of trauma. None of the participants reported having any depressive or traumatic disorders before the survey was conducted.
“Our results show that social media usage was related to both depression and secondary trauma during the early part of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan,” said Zhong. “The findings suggest that taking a social media break from time to time may help to improve people’s mental well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Other authors on the paper include Yakun Huang and Qian Liu of Jinan University.
7 Montrealers you need to follow on social media – Montreal Gazette
We’re living through generation social media — there’s no way around it, and while the benefits and pitfalls that come along with social media are constantly being debated, being mindful about who you choose to follow is one of the simplest ways to ensure you’re getting the most out of the platform.
Looking to freshen up your feed with a new curation of Montreal-based YouTubers and Instagrammers? Here are some of the most in-touch, thoughtful and downright cool Montrealers you should be following on social media. From high-end fashion influencers to uplifting and inspiring personalities, these local social media stars are sure to breathe some fresh air into your feed.
Former Bachelor star Vanessa Grimaldi is best known around Montreal for her contributions to special education programs across the city. As the founder of No Better You, an organization that provides the necessary tools to help give students in the special needs community a voice, Grimaldi’s personal Instagram offers an insider’s glimpse into the happenings around the city with a distinctly positive and uplifting lens.
COVID-19 app needs Manitoba social media push, 'no app, no entry' strategy in bars, says expert – CBC.ca
The success of Manitoba’s adoption of a COVID-19 exposure alert app may hinge on how the province gets the word out, and whether local restaurants and bars get on board with a “no app, no entry” rule, says an Ontario expert.
The Health Canada COVID Alert app officially launched during the summer in Ontario, followed by Newfoundland and Labrador, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick. Manitoba will join the effort this week, and Health Minister Cameron Friesen urged the public to download the app now.
But epidemiologist Dr. Prabhat Jha said he hopes Manitoba draws lessons from those other regions, including what not to do.
“What not to do is simply release the app and say, ‘Hey, use it,'” said Jha, director for the Centre for Global Health Research at St. Michael’s Hospital and a professor of epidemiology in the faculty of medicine at the University of Toronto.
What’s needed, said Jha, is a professional social media campaign that targets younger people and makes a compelling case for the value of the app, its confidentiality and the privacy of data.
Another possible initiative is to institute some kind of “no app, no entry” rule at bars and restaurants in conjunction with business owners, said Jha.
“That would have the benefit of increasing the incentive for people to actually use the app.”
The app uses Bluetooth technology to detect app users who come into contact with each other. Users who test positive get a one-time code they can enter. When they do, any app user they’ve been within two metres of for at least 15 minutes in the two weeks prior is notified with an alert.
Though anyone can download the app, only people in provinces that have agreed to participate can report a diagnosis.
On Monday, Minister Friesen said the province would release more details about the app later this week, and encouraged Manitobans to download it in advance.
He said if the provincial government needs to switch up its messaging to reach younger populations, who appear to be driving a recent surge in Winnipeg, then it will.
A provincial spokesperson said Tuesday the government is finalizing plans but intends to promote the app in a number of ways.
However, implementing a “no app, no entry” recommendation would be a challenge, the spokesperson said.
“Any sort of restrictions on access to a site without the app would require significant review, including issues around accessibility of the app on certain phones, the privacy of individuals and access to technology (among others) before anything would be considered,” the spokesperson wrote in an email.
‘Extremely happy’ app coming
Either way, the endorsement by the Manitoba government of the COVID-19 alert app is welcome news, said Jason Kindrachuk.
“I’m extremely happy that Manitoba has signed off on this,” said Kindrachuk, an associate professor and Canada research chair in emerging viruses at the University of Manitoba. “We need to use whatever technology we can to try and get past this virus.”
Friesen and Kindrachuk both said the app doesn’t collect personal information. Health Canada says the app doesn’t track users’ location, name, address, health information or personal contacts in their phone.
That also means it won’t necessarily make the job of contact tracers immediately easier, said Kindrachuk.
What it will do is highlight hot spots for transmission, which could help health officials focus in on outbreak areas sooner, he said.
One of the confounding factors of the novel coronavirus is the ability of those infected to transmit the disease while asymptomatic, said Kindrachuk. The transmission period can be in the range of five days, he said. That means people may not know they’ve been exposed and could transmit the virus for days before they’re notified.
“Being able to have an app like this, where you get notified extremely quickly if somebody has tested positive, that may decrease your ability to transmit the virus by days, and I think that’s quite critical,” Kindrachuk told CBC Information Radio host Marcy Markusa.
Use of the app is voluntary, but its effectiveness is dependent on how many Manitobans download it. Friesen said in order for it to help health officials, 60 per cent or more of a target population must use it, but some experts say it doesn’t need to be used by a majority to have a positive impact.
WATCH | Health minister encourages Manitobans to download federal COVID-19 app:
Two months after it was rolled out in Ontario, Jha said the app has had little social marketing help. On the plus side, there is some early evidence suggesting a greater proportion of people who reported a contact are now being tested, some of which is attributable to the app, he said.
“That’s good news, but the levels of uptake still remain low,” he said.
Kindrachuk agrees the impact of the app locally is tied to uptake. Large-scale benefits of the tool may not be immediately clear, he said, but it could help inform how apps like it are used in the future.
“In the months and years after COVID, we’ll get a real sense of how well the app performed,” he said.
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