How China’s next prime minister keeps tabs on its economy
Dec 9th 2010 | HONG KONG | from PRINT EDITION
IF CHINA’S deputy prime minister, Li Keqiang, succeeds his boss, Wen Jiabao, in 2013, as is likely, he will become his country’s top economic policymaker. But he may not pay much heed to the figures provincial officials feed him. In 2007 he told America’s ambassador that GDP figures in Liaoning, where he was then party chief, were “man-made” and unreliable, according to a State Department memo released by WikiLeaks.
Provincial officials have long been suspected of overstating growth. Adding their figures together suggests that China’s economy was $364 billion bigger in 2009 than the total in the national accounts. Mr Li preferred to track Liaoning’s economy by looking at other indicators: the cargo volume on the province’s railways, electricity consumption and loans disbursed by banks.