Reality Check: Experts question China's latest growth figures

By The Citizen

In this week's Reality Check on Upfront on Al Jazeera English, host Mehdi Hasan questions China's latest economic figures.

“The country hit its growth target for 14 out of the last 15 years. And the one time they missed it, it was by 0.1 percent. It seems almost too good to be true. So what if it isn’t true?' asks Hasan.

China's main stock market index took a 30% plunge in June and July last year, industrial production has dropped, and so have retail sales, but official growth numbers have remained uncannily stable since 2012.

As Hasan says, '”The problem with measuring the size of the Chinese economy is that in terms of hard data, you pretty much have to take the government's word for it. And sometimes their word isn't worth much.'

Hasan references Chinese officials who admitted that official figures were inflated. For example, Wikileaks revealed that one of China's most senior leaders, Li Kequiang, privately admitted that the GDP figures were “man made,” and quote “All other figures, especially GDP statistics, are 'for reference only,' he said smiling,' according to the cable. Li Kequiang apparently uses another method to measure his country’s economic performance and, according to that unofficial index, China's growth has more than halved since 2013.

'This isn’t a Western or anti-Chinese conspiracy,' says Hasan. “They're saying it themselves. Nobody's questioning the fact that the Chinese economy has been booming over the last few decades, or that poverty has been slashed, but it now seems pretty obvious they’ve also been fiddling a lot of their figures along the way. So next time you hear the Chinese dragon yet again has been hitting all its economic targets, maybe think myth, not miracle.'