China-Flag2Transparency in public sector data has become a victim of a Chinese government crackdown on the sale of data from its sprawling statistics agencies.  This has prompted a marked deterioration in the numbers that investors rely on to understand the world’s second-largest economy.

The gaps appeared after China’s feared corruption watchdog, the Central Central Committee for Disciplinary Inspection (CCDI), began a probe into the National Bureau of Statistics six months ago. The bureau’s head was removed from his post in February.

Much of the most detailed information is not published publicly by the National Bureau of Statistics but is sold to news agencies, banks, consultancies or other parties by departments within the bureau. In some cases, different departments will compete for revenue by issuing rival data sets.

The CCDI said last week it was disciplining 313 NBS officials for “profiting from statistics” and barred officials from “receiving royalties, editorial fees or labour fees” from publishing statistics data. The latest investigation follows one a few years ago when officials were punished for leaking important macroeconomic data, including GDP figures, in return for payment.

Source:  Financial Times