Editor's note: In an exclusive interview with China Daily, a China National Statistics Bureau official rebutted claims by a US researcher who challenged the credibility of China's statistical data and blamed the strategy the nation has adopted to fight the economic crisis. The official said that the NBS has employed a full-fledged statistical survey system to ensure the accuracy and efficiency of its economic data.
In a recent report entitled China Refuses to Adjust Its Economy, the Washington-based conservative think tank, the Heritage Foundation, questioned the reliability of China's economic data. Its author, Derek Scissors, a research fellow of Asia Economic Policy, claimed that China only took 15 days to "survey the economic progress of 1.3 billion people" and therefore, claimed that the economic results are "manufactured to suit the Communist Party".
Scissors also accused China of pursuing a short-term recovery at the cost of a mushrooming fiscal deficit.
Here is the full transcript of the interview.
China Daily: In an article entitled China Refuses to Adjust Its Economy published on the website of the Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based conservative think tank, its author, Derek Scissors, claimed that China's National Statistics Bureau could take just 15 days to survey the economic progress of 1.3 billion people, "despite starkly limited resources and a dynamic, complex economy". What is your comment about this?
National Bureau of Statistics (NBS): We have noticed Mr. Scissors' article. We always welcome well-justified criticism and well-intended advice, but we did not see any sense or kindness in Mr. Scissors' article. In fact, China has already established a relatively complete statistical survey system, and the government alone employs more than 100,000 statisticians to conduct surveys, and collect and sort quantitative information every day. We have the ability to provide quarterly or monthly survey reports 15 days after that quarter or month is concluded.
We are dedicated to constantly improving our data collection system. Since reform and opening up were launched in 1978, China has gradually developed its survey measures based on other countries' experiences and China's reality. Basically, we are conducting cyclical general surveys and spot surveys, some of which are extensive and others that are targeted at specific groups. We are also making full use of the database. Currently, we are carrying out national population and agricultural censuses every 10 years, and an economic census every five years. Our general surveys cover a wide range of sectors, such as industries, construction, wholesale and retail, accommodation and catering, fixed asset investment and consumption. Our spot surveys cover industries, the service sector, people's income and expenditure, the consumer price index, producer price index, etc. Over the past years, NBS has improved its statistical surveys through choosing better samples, better timing and better measures. These help to ensure that survey reports come out as soon as possible.
We have improved our capacity to transmit and compile data. In order to speed up the process to transmit, compile and report the results of statistical surveys, China has now set up a network that allows companies in the industrial, commercial, investment and consumer sectors to report their survey results directly to the NBS data management center after filling the digital survey questionnaire online. This has tremendously sped up and streamlined the whole process.
We have improved our national economic accounting system. Since reform and opening up were launched in 1978, NBS has been actively involved in working out an accounting system that is both in line with international practices but also suits China's particular circumstances. As a result of our experience and research, NBS formulated the National Economic Accounting System of China (draft) in 1992. A revision was made to the draft in 2002, leading to the shaping of a new and standardized National Economic Accounting System. China's present economic accounting system is in compliance with the principles and requirements of United Nations' System of National Accounts 1993, a conceptual framework that sets the international statistical standard for the measurement of a market economy. The process and formula to calculate GDP has also been regulated and improved.