China vows to punish officials for falsifying economic data

BEIJING (Reuters) – China will investigate and punish officials for falsifying economic data, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Monday, amid scepticism about the reliability of Chinese data.

Fabricating economic data or interfering in statistical work by officials has persisted despite government steps in recent years to improve the quality of the data, the bureau said in a statement, citing an unidentified senior official.

Officials who commit data fraud “will be found, investigated and dealt with, and will not be tolerated,” the official said.

“Statistical fraud is the biggest corruption in the field of statistics, which seriously violates the statistics law, seriously affects the quality of statistical data, obstructing and even misleading macro decision-making,” the official said.

The official’s remarks follow the ruling Communist Party’s new disciplinary rules that included giving warnings and expelling officials who are responsible for data violations.

There has long been scepticism about the reliability of Chinese data, especially as the government has sought to defuse market concerns about a protracted slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy.

The economy grew 5.2% in 2023, meeting the official target, but analysts expect growth to slow this year amid a property crisis, mounting local debt and persistent deflationary risks.

(Reporting by Kevin Yao; editing by Mark Heinrich)