The head of China’s National Bureau of Statistics says that the figures it produces are now trustworthy and comparable to international levels of quality, following a crackdown on the falsification of data.
In an interview with Bloomberg NBS head Ning Jizhe said that the authority had stepped up its scrutiny of data is collected around the country.
“We have zero tolerance of any manipulation of statistics, and will strictly crack down on it, even if it’s a single case or restricted to a few regions,” said Ning.
NBS has launched special measures to shore up data accuracy, including the establishment of a special inspection division of 60 people to investigate cases of fake data, and the exclusion of regional officials from the process of data collation.
“Fudging or inflating the data won’t lead to promotions for officials, but only demotions,” said Ning. “Who would manipulate the data? There isn’t any incentive.”
According to Ning China’s official data is now reliable and internationally comparable, despite prior cases of falsification by the provinces which led Premier Li Keqiang to declare in 2007 that some regional GDP data was “man-made.”
While fifteen years ago the figure for China’s total economic output based on figures produced by the 31 regions was 10% greater than the official national total, Ning says this gap will be reduced to 1% this year.
Chinese data has long been called into question due to both the difficulty of accurately gauging market activity in such a massive, rapidly changing economy, as well as accusations of wilful manipulation or falsification by officials.
Certain figures are inclined to remain unnaturally stable – with economic growth remaining between 6.7 and 6.9% over the past three years, while the provinces of Inner Mongolia, Liaoning, Jilin and Tianjin have all recently been caught falsifying statistics.