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CHINA: statistics problems

From China, Paul Simon tells us the Chinese government has admitted the error, if not of its ways, at least of its provincial statistics; "China admits economic data 'unreliable' .The NAtional Bureau of Statistics (NBS has admitted persistent discrepancies. China's official statistics agency has cast doubt over the credibility of most of its economic data, as it again confirmed the economy grew by 7.3% in 2001. An internal report by the NBS uncovered endemic falsification of data, with about 62,000 breaches of Chinese statistics law between May and October last year. Zhu Zhixin, head of the NBS, said he was "fully confident" about China's statistical methods. But he admitted there were persistent discrepancies between provincial statistics and those at the national level because "some regions intentionally make false reports". Statistical error?

"In 2001, China's economy faced a severe global situation. However, if the global economy picks up this year, I believe the Chinese economy will still show rapid growth," Mr Zhu said. According to its own statistics, for the past two decades China has been the world's fastest-growing major economy, but growth has been declining since reaching 8.1% in the first quarter of 2001. Western economists have long viewed Chinese state statistics with suspicion, particularly employment figures, a sensitive political topic for the communist government as it adopts painful market-oriented reforms in line with World Trade Organisation membership. It is widely expected that Premier Zhu Rongji will set a growth target of around 7% during his annual report to the nation at next week's annual meeting of China's parliament, the National People's Congress.

Ronald Hilton - 3/4/02