Misleading: This video does not show closed stores in Shanghai or China’s economic collapse

Xitian HUANG
Dec 14, 2020 · 3 min read
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By Xue Xiaodong and Huang Xitian

On Oct. 25, a video showing many stores closed on a street called Nanjing Road was posted on Twitter with gloomy background music. It claims in Simplified Chinese:

“Shanghai is the beacon for the Chinese economy; most of the stores on the Nanjing Road are closed. The real economy is collapsing! The pandemic is accelerating the economic crisis.”

The Chinese text on the video also says, “Shanghai, once the most prosperous shopping streets.”

Nanjing Road is one of the most common street names in China but the one in Shanghai is the most well-known. It is a popular tourist spot.

The video has been viewed 20,000 times. The same video with a similar caption has also been shared widely on some websites like Sound of Hope, Epoch Times, New Tang Dynasty Television. Aboluowang also posted the same claim by referring to the misleading video on Twitter.

The claim is misleading. The Nanjing Road in this video is not in Shanghai. It is located in one of the counties of Jiangsu province.

Noting the watermark on the misleading video, Annie Lab tracked down the Douyin account named “The Lucky Old Tavern” (吉祥老酒館).

The account owner told Annie Lab through messages via Douyin and Wechat that he took the video himself. He said he originally posted it on Douyin with a caption:

“There are a dozen street shops, eight or nine of which have been advertised empty for rent, but have not been rented out.”

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The screenshot taken by this account owner shows that the original video only said, “The real economy in Nanjing Road is collapsing.” It did not mention Shanghai.

It appears the original video provided by the Douyin user has been manipulated in the widely shared tweet by adding two text blocks, namely “All has begun……” and “Shanghai, once the most prosperous shopping streets.”

The video was taken in a county in Jiangsu province and was later blocked by Douyin, the account owner said. He asked for anonymity and did not want the name of the county to be disclosed in order to protect his privacy.

To geolocate the street, Annie Lab identified four stores in the misleading video: 立康堂鼻炎館 (Li Kang Tang rhinitis clinic), 婦嬰樂月嫂 (Fu Ying Le maternal and child health store), 蘭芳老街 (Lan Fang old street), 長虹通信 (Chang Hong Communication).

By searching the names online as well as comparing the banners, door plates, decorations and locations, Annie Lab can confirm that the four stores are all located in the Nanjing Road in a county in Jiangsu Province.

Below is the video comparing the shops in the misleading post with the pictures of the stores found on Gaode map, also known as Amap, and a local forum of the county:

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Comparison of a rhinitis clinic in the misleading video (left) and the picture of the same shop found on the county local forum (right). This store is located at №200-№202 Nanjing East Road.
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Comparison of a milk tea shop Lan Fang old street in the misleading video (left) and an image of the same shop found on Gaode Map (right). This store is located at №198 Nanjing East Road.
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Comparison of a store for maternal and child health near a milk tea store in the misleading video (left) and a picture of the same store found on Gaode Map (right).
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This store is located at №194 Nanjing East Road which is searchable on Gaode Map.
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Comparison of a communication store in the misleading video(left) and the same shop found on Gaode Map(right).

Disclaimer: This is a student work. Although faculty members at the Journalism and Media Studies Centre at the University of Hong Kong have done everything possible to verify its accuracy, we cannot guarantee there are no mistakes. If you notice an error or have any questions, please email us at contact@annieasia.org.

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