China’s Xinhua news agency and the People’s Daily have reported that officials tend to inflate economic data in order to boost their performance based on which they are assessed by China’s central government.
Baotou, a northern industrial city in China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region stated that its 2017 fiscal revenue figures, that it had earlier stated, were significantly less due to “fake” additions.
The report has added to the skepticism surrounding official data being released by China.
Baotou has revised its estimated fiscal revenue in 2017 by nearly 50%. It published a copy of its revision on its official government’s website on January 13.
In its report it stated that the revision was due to factors which include “fake additions”. It however did not mention how these fake economic data came about and who was responsible for it.
“We have been trying to change our mindset and change the course of our development model,” said the Baotou government.
As per China’s Xinhua news agency, Inner Mongolia cut its industrial output figure for 2016 by 40% on January 3. Further, it also revised its fiscal revenue target for that year by a decrease of 26% without providing any details.
As reported by China’s People’s Daily on January 15, the 2016 GDP of Tianjin’s Binhai New Area, an economic zone which was once touted to be China’s Manhattan, was in fact one third smaller than was previously announced.
This incident of data fraud coincides with Beijing’s crackdown on lending it sees as risky, which are partly aimed at curbing runaway local government debt.
According to the People’s Daily report, while the inflated data may look good on paper, it would however lead to more stress in the less developed regions of China and would cause the central government to reduce funding.
In January 2016, China’s northeastern province of Liaoning was the first to admit that it had faked fiscal data from 2011 to 2014.
Chinese cities and provinces have long been suspected of using fraudulent data to beef up their performance since the central government tends to assess their performance based on their respective economic performance.