Statistical work in China is not only a technical task; it also serves as a major political task. Officials at all government levels are trying to polish statistical data to highlight their political achievements.
According to SecretChina, some cases of statistical violations have been officially reported.
For example, Zhang Jinghua, former deputy secretary of the Chinese Communist Party unit at the Jiangsu Provincial Party Committee, was dismissed. One of his charges was found to be engaging in economic data falsification for personal benefit.
The National Bureau of Statistics of China has recently held a conference on the deployment of the special rectification work of statistical fraud.
At the event, the bureau’s director Kang Yi said that statistical fraud occurred in several localities, and it is necessary to fight against the problem “with real knives and guns.”
Economist Cheng Xiaonong told Radio Free Asia that statistical work in China is not only a technical task but also a major political task.
Cheng said, “In China, statistical work is not simply a survey to get a real understanding of the economic situation. First and foremost, it serves politics.”
Cheng added that it reflects the effective implementation of the communist party’s policies and that the economic situation is in order.
Sun Jie (pseudonym) is an official at the National Audit Office of China. He told China Watch that the interpretation of China’s economic data must be viewed from a political perspective. Officials at all levels of the government will try to modify various data, making them look remarkable to highlight their political achievements.
Sun Jie said, “From bottom to top, whether it’s a city or a county, data fraud is widespread, and it lasts for a long time, involving a wide range of economic fields and a variety of tricks.”
The Tianjun Political Economy team also pointed out that all Chinese government levels have falsified data. There is deception from level to level, all the way to the State Council. The lower-level officials produce data and report the beautified data to the higher levels to get promoted. Another reason is that local governments with polished data can receive more financial subsidiaries from the central government.
The development of a country is measured by economic data. But in China, data such as gross domestic product, industrial production, or even consumer price index have been falsified.
Sun Jie said that if the income of provinces and cities in the past decade were summed up, the total amount would definitely exceed the country’s whole figures. It is because the lower government departments prefer to fabricate data.
In 2017, when China was preparing for the 19th National Congress, many localities fabricated their economic data for political purposes. After that period, Inner Mongolia admitted that financial and economic data were false. It had to reduce industrial production value by 290 billion yuan, equivalent to 40% of all industrial added value for 2016.
Yunnan, Hunan, Jilin, Chongqing, and other provinces and cities also had similar actions.
This year, China is heading to the 20th National Congress. Though the statistics bureau calls for rectification of statistical frauds to convince the world that its data is correct, the situation is still the same.
For the sake of the 20th National Congress, Sun Jie said that the data for this year must meet the same standard, and they must be impressive numbers.