China – analytical transparency remains limited

July 10th, 2018 by Hubert Fromlet, Kalmar

Economic reporting from China to foreigners has certainly improved quite a lot during the past 10-15 years. This is, of course, positive. However, these improvements seem to be mostly appreciated by foreigners who are not looking for special statistical details or more far-reaching results from social or economic research.

Certain daily Chinese newspapers have nowadays printed and even electronic versions in English, frequently with interesting (economic) news. But there are often annoying restrictions or impediments when more detailed information is needed. Trying to find more detailed access to the original authors or publishers of interesting reports usually tends to fail – contrary to what we are used to in our part of the world from our own institutions.

This described problem is indeed not in line for a country aiming at becoming the largest economy in the world and – nota bene – at being recognized as a market economy. So far, I have not even taken up Chinese economic statistics and reports in pure quality terms. However, qualitative shortcomings in these areas can only be found and improved when decent transparency already is in place. Transparency is the key to many positive developments!

Our latest China Panel Survey (https://blogg.lnu.se/china-research/files/2018/05/ChinaPanelSurvey-May-2018.pdf) from May this year still sees the quality of economic statistics at insufficient 4.1 (on a scale from 1 – 10, 10 = very good). There is no improvement in the past few years, according to our experts. And only few China analysts in OECD countries complain about this disappointing institutional development – which probably adds further to China’s lagging analytical transparency.

Perhaps, there is too much semi-knowledge about China in our part of the world – also with professional analysts at financial institutions, political organizations and corporate organizations outside China. Semi-knowledge may induce fewer complaints.

Find more about semi-knowledge in my next China blog!

 

Hubert Fromlet
Affiliate Professor at the School of Business and Economics, Linnaeus University
Editorial board

 

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