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China will not tolerate fake economic data

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-04-25 11:09

BEIJING — The Chinese government has zero tolerance for any fabrication of economic data as it knows the importance of authentic figures in making correct decisions and bringing tangible benefits to its people.

Of the 23 provincial-level regions that have released first quarter regional GDP figures as of Monday, Northeast China's Liaoning province recorded the slowest growth of 2.4 percent, lower than the national growth of 6.9 percent.

This is not a surprise as the local government admitted in January that a raft of economic data had been falsified from 2011 to 2014 and vowed to eliminate the bubbles in statistics.

In response to the problem, Liaoning reported a 2.5-percent drop in its 2016 regional GDP, compared with a 6.7-percent expansion in national GDP, showing the province's firm stance against falsifying data.

The issue of inflated data originates from the obsession some local officials have for impressive figures, which could bring political benefits under previous official evaluation measures.

China is changing to a more scientific evaluation system from the former system, which placed excessive emphasis on economic indicators.

Fake data are even more harmful to society than fake products, as they will distort the central government's judgment about economic realities and influence decision making.

It is also against the Communist Party of China's ideological line, which underscores seeking truth from facts, and erodes the image of the Party in Chinese people's minds.

As in Liaoning's case, the problem can also hurt the people's material well-being, as inflated fiscal figures caused a reduction in the central government's transfer payments to the local level.

The central government has responded to fake data with a definitive "no."

To ensure data authenticity and reliability, the country has unveiled guidelines on the management of statistical work, improved the legal framework and punished economic data-related violations.

"We will never tolerate statistical violations or data falsifications. There will be zero tolerance," head of the National Bureau of Statistics Ning Jizhe said last month.

Last year, the bureau investigated 15 major statistical violation cases, punishing more than 10 people in each case.

The bureau on Thursday set up a law enforcement unit that aims to become a "sharp sword" against data fabrication.

At a time when the whole country is making strides toward the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in an all-round way by 2020, no fake data should be allowed.

After all, China's pledge to "leave no one behind" in building a moderately prosperous society must be fulfilled among the people, not just on paper.

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