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Desperate times call for faked economic data – China’s latest political and current affairs news

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summary of the top news in Chinese politics and current affairs for June 12, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina news roundup "Huge hole in Shanghai-bound jet’s engine, a Korean connection in Pakistan kidnapping."
4 months ago
Lucas Niewenhuis

“China’s GDP figures are ‘man-made’ and therefore unreliable,” Li Keqiang said in 2007 — nearly six years before he became China’s premier — according to U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks in 2010. The statement was notable because, despite the widely held belief that official statistics in China are at best rough estimates and at worst completely bogus, it is very rare for a senior Party leader to admit this.

However, slowing growth, continued pressure on provincial leaders to sustain economic development, and possible attention from the Party’s feared anticorruption watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), are increasingly exposing faked economic data and lack of compliance with environmental regulations:

  • The Commission stated that parts of northeastern Jilin Province and Inner Mongolia had faked economic data, though it did not specify “what figures were manipulated, how widespread the practice was, or the time frame,” according to Bloomberg. This marks the second time this year that the Chinese government has admitted to faking official statistics — when the governor of northeastern Liaoning Province announced in January that his officials had inflated GDP numbers from 2011 to 2014, it was the first public admission of any unreliability in statistics from the Chinese government. Jilin and Liaoning are two of the nation’s most economically struggling provinces.
  • The high pressure to achieve economic growth has also led to more publicly reported environmental issues. China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) stated that in Beijing’s surrounding area — known as “Jing-Jin-Ji,” short for Beijing, Tianjin, and the province of Hebei — over 70 percent of companies inspected have failed to meet environmental standards, Quartz reports. The results from MEP are preliminary parts of a yearlong inspection series of the Jing-Jin-Ji area that started in April.

By Lucas Niewenhuis
Lucas Niewenhuis is an associate editor at SupChina who helps curate daily news and produce the company's newsletter, app, and website content. Previously, Lucas researched China-Africa relations at the Social Science Research Council and interned at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. He has studied Chinese language and culture in Shanghai and Beijing, and is a graduate of the University of Michigan.
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