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Economy

China statistics chief says regional economic data inflated

Rare acknowledgment brings national GDP figures into question

BEIJING -- Some of China's local governments are bumping up economic data, Ning Jizhe, director of China's National Bureau of Statistics, wrote Thursday in the Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily.

A committee headed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in October approved reforms to boost the accuracy of economic data. In a rare acknowledgment of the country's problem with inflating figures, Ning criticized those responsible for breaking the law and going against the party's principles.

The statistics chief was likely referring to officials who pad local gross domestic product figures in an effort to boost their own standing. Some provinces are said to be illicitly using a negative GDP deflator in order to lift real growth figures. The northeastern provinces of Jilin, Liaoning and Heilongjiang, suffering amid a nationwide economic slowdown, were discovered to be significantly overstating numbers in a party investigation.

The manipulation also brings into question China's national economic statistics, which are compiled using the provincial governments' figures. Many are skeptical that Chinese GDP has grown 6.7% year on year in the first three quarters of 2016, as the country has reported.

Beijing sends 20,000 investigators across the country to directly collect data through a sample survey, and it's not possible for the numbers to be wrong, Statistics Bureau spokesperson Sheng Laiyun told The Nikkei and other media in October.

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