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Latest GDP figure is right on the money, says official
By Si Tingting (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-07-23 07:46

A National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) official has rebuffed claims that the NBS could not have accurately produced its latest half-year economic data in the 15-day period it took to compile, pointing out that the department has the resources to ensure accuracy and efficiency.

The Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based conservative think-tank, had earlier questioned the reliability of China's economic data in a report entitled "China Refuses to Adjust Its Economy".

The report's author, Derek Scissors, a research fellow in Asian economic policy with the think-tank, asked in the report how China could "survey the economic progress of 1.3 billion people" in 15 days, concluding the economic results were "manufactured to suit the Communist Party".

But the representative of the NBS said Scissors was wrong.

"The Chinese government has employed more than 100,000 statisticians to collect, compile and analyze data on a daily basis and, therefore, we have the resources, as well as a strict and efficient survey and accounting system, to ensure that statistics could be available 15 days after the surveyed period was over," said the NBS official, who declined to be named.

NBS revealed on July 16 that Gross Domestic Product had grown in the second quarter of the year, rising to 7.9 percent from 6.1 percent in the first quarter. That meant overall growth for the first half of 2009 was put at 7.1 percent.

Some economic analysts said China's GDP growth rate was lower than they had expected, but Scissors said it was rising more quickly than he anticipated and he claimed the number was worked out too quickly to be accurate.

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China's statistics have been in the spotlight in recent months as analysts at home and abroad have sought to know whether the world's third-largest economy was in a position to lead the world out of the economic downturn.

The figures are also crucial for the nation's top decision-makers as they map out future macro economic policies.

In the Heritage Foundation report, Scissors said China was pursuing short-term policies at the expense of mushrooming fiscal deficits.

"China is trying to drag itself and the rest of the world back along the trial that led to the current economic crisis," Scissors claimed.

"It's too early to make the final judgment," the NBS official said in response. The Chinese government's package of stimulus measures was targeted to boost domestic demand, improve industrial infrastructure, encourage innovation and improve the social security net, he said.

"We are not trying to solve the current problem with the old way of increasing investment. We are targeting a sustained recovery," he said.

The latest rebuttal from China followed a similar episode in which the International Energy Agency (IEA) questioned the reliability of China's economic data in the IEA's report on the global oil market released on May 14. The IEA claimed China's first-quarter GDP growth did not tally with falling oil demand.

"The viewpoint is groundless. It made a mistake to oversimplify the correlation between economic growth and energy use," the NBS said in an interview posted on its website.

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