BOFIT Viikkokatsaus / BOFIT Weekly 2019/07

The NBS released new data that show real GDP growth was more than one percentage point below the official growth targets set for Inner Mongolia, Liaoning, Jilin, Hainan and Chongqing provinces. Official figures show economic growth in these areas running at 4–6 % p.a. In most provinces, GDP growth was roughly in line with the target. GDP figures have yet to be released for Heilongjiang and Tibet provinces.

In about a dozen provinces, GDP grew by 6–7 % in real terms, and in another dozen 7–9 %. The highest GDP growth, around 9%, was posted by Yunnan and Guizhou provinces. Both are among the poorest economies in China.

The economies of China’s larger provinces match those of major countries. For example, the GDP of Guangdong and Jiangsu in dollar terms last year corresponded to that of Spain or Australia. 19 of mainland China’s 31 provinces have economies larger than that of Finland.

The reliability of provincial-level GDP figures has long been dubious. Hitting growth targets is a major consideration in evaluating the performance of provincial officials. Such targets put pressure on them to set economic growth figures exceeding the party’s national GDP growth target. As a result, the aggregate growth reported by regions without exception exceeds the official GDP growth figures released by the NBS. Several provinces have been caught up in scandals over jiggered growth figures.