As much as the ChiComs claim to be a global economic powerhouse, we should always be aware that much of the economic numbers that come out of China are either flat-out lies or at best, exaggerations. Hence:
The most important thing to understand about Chinese statistics is not that they are necessarily manipulated from the top. Certainly that happens too, as it does in every country in the world. Look no further than Wang’s example for that. But much of the manipulation of Chinese data actually comes from the lower levels. China is a country of over a billion people, but it has no unified or centralized statistical reporting system. Data is gathered at the local level and passed up the chain until it reaches the central government. The bureaucrats in charge of that system enjoy professional success and advancement when their numbers conform to the expectations and directives of the party. As a result, the numbers can be inflated to give the impression of success or moderated in order to avoid attention.
An example of how this can lead to catastrophe comes out of China itself, in the not-so-distant past:
In the 1958-1961 Great Leap Forward, Chairman Mao’s disastrous attempt to shift a backward agrarian economy to a modern industrial powerhouse, the failure of the statistical system contributed to catastrophe on a grand scale. Mao’s plan, such as it was, required producing an agricultural surplus that could be sold to fund investment in a modern industrial base. Whipped into a patriotic frenzy, and knowing that their future depended on meeting unrealistic targets for the production of grain, local officials engaged in rampant exaggeration of output.
But reality was distorted at a cost. The higher the production figures, the greater the tax owed to the central government. In some areas, the exaggerated claims were so great that the entire harvest had to be handed over as tax, used to fund investments and extravagances that China could ill afford. In some parts of the country, the only crops left behind were grown by villagers in secret locations, away from the acquisitive eye of the local production teams. But such success stories were few and far between. Tens of millions died in history’s greatest man-made famine.
Communists are renowned, of course, for perverting the facts to suit their own ends. Remember this over the coming political election season here in the U.S., as our own home-grown Marxists fabricate lies and misquote or otherwise falsify data, simply to advance their political agenda.