Outcry over fake data in China

Outcry over fake data in China

BEIJING - Officials in the tiny county of Henglan in southern Guangdong province have been exposed for massively inflating the industrial output of 246 of its large firms last year.

Inspections of a sample of 71 among them showed that their actual output was overstated by nearly four times, the Statistics Bureau revealed on June 14.

It seemed like yet another case of officially made-up figures in China.

After all, data-massaging is a long-festering problem - suspected to taint everything from energy usage to exports - that has made even Premier Li Keqiang wary of taking China's GDP data at face value.

He once famously said that he relied on three indicators - electricity consumption, rail cargo volume and bank lending - to gauge the health of the Chinese economy.

But what was surprising was the widespread outcry from a few dozen state and local newspapers over the relatively small case.

"Falsifying statistics is also crime of corruption," proclaimed a headline in China.org.cn, a news portal under the State Council Information Office.

"Only when one knows shame can one become brave and have strength (to change)," declared the People's Daily.

In the vein of a "name and shame" campaign, the Communist Party's flagship newspaper detailed how the Henglan authorities had repented, apologised, fired the culprits and imposed new checks on data.

This unified media voice has led some to believe there may be a quiet push by the new leaders to get tougher on data manipulation.

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