China's 'phantom province' draws media attention, despite not existing

Posted by LDonia on 02/08/2013

Didi Kirsten Tatlow at the New York Times reported yesterday on something interesting: China's "phantom" province.

The name may spur images of now-deceased provinces attempting to haunt the rest of the country, which is silly, but no less bizarre than the reality.

Tatlow reports:

China has a “phantom province” pumping out nearly 5.8 trillion renminbi (about $930 billion) in gross domestic product last year, about equivalent to the output of its richest province, Guangdong, Chinese media reported this week.

How so?

Deliberately inflated figures from local officials are largely to blame, domestic media reported, as officials seek promotion for delivering the high growth demanded by the state. And the problem of systemic exaggeration in the economy is growing, not shrinking, as the country becomes richer and is increasingly integrated into the global economy.

In other words, no one is sure how large the world's second largest economy actually is.  It seems, when the country added up its economic figures and compared those to the reported GDP, there was no way to account for 5.8 trillion renminbi.


Tatlow gives one reason:

The government in Beijing has its own way of dealing with the problem: The incoming prime minister, Li Keqiang, once reportedly said financial data in China was “man-made” and he relied instead on three indicators: electricity consumption, rail cargo and bank loans.

Read more here.

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