Efforts are needed to make sure China’s economic statistics are genuinely reliable

By Hu Weijia Source:Global Times Published: 2016/8/29 0:23:39

Chinese observers have once again turned their attention toward the reliability of China's economic statistics, following a statement posted on the website of the Communist Party of China (CPC)'s disciplinary watchdog, which highlighted fraudulent manipulation of economic data in Northeast China's Liaoning Province.

Liaoning's economy contracted by 1.3 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2016, plunging from a 3 percent expansion in the whole of 2015.

The unexpectedly severe contraction of Liaoning's GDP growth has been widely associated with the country's ramped-up efforts this year to prevent local officials from overstating data amid downward pressure on the economy.

Chinese economists have long taken note of the predicament facing Northeast China, but flawed economic statistics may had covered up the gravity of the problem in the region and left policymakers adrift.

Recently, China's top economic planning agency  released a plan that was comprised of 137 key tasks and 127 major projects in an attempt to revitalize the old industrial bases in Northeast China, but we believe the central government would have drafted a clearer road map last year in an attempt to rejuvenate the Northeast if economic data at the moment had adequately informed policymakers of the true situation in the region.

Flawed economic statistics are perhaps one of the factors that has landed Liaoning in its current economic hardship. Now more targeted, powerful measures to keep economic indicators accurate should be rolled out as an important component in the ongoing economic and administrative system reforms aimed at pulling the region out of this struggle.

Local officials who have maintained an ostrich mentality amid downward pressure on the economy and kept their heads in the sand while flawed economic statistics were released should be warned, while officials who sought private gain through deliberately overstating data need to be punished.

Efforts to keep economic data accurate should not be limited only to Northeast China.

Hopefully efforts to keep economic data accurate can be more closely combined with China's anti-corruption campaign and the ongoing administrative system reforms that have extended across the country.

Such efforts would make Chinese policymakers aware of the true economic conditions of the country and help rebuild trust in China's national statistics.

As China further integrates itself into the world economy, China's economic statistics serve as an important reference in the international community. As such, it is urgent that China's statistics are genuinely reliable and truly accepted by the rest of the world.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times. bizopinion@globaltimes.com.cn

Posted in: Eye on The Economy

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