Early this year, China found a missing province, one doing very well for itself. The total GDP for 2012, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, was 51.9 trillion yuan. The total GDP figures of China’s 31 provinces for 2012 added up to 57.6 trillion yuan, giving the phantom 32nd province an annual GDP of 5.7 trillion yuan. For many economists, this was just a shining example of what they have believed for years: that China’s GDP numbers are questionable at best, and often exaggerate China’s growth, largely for political reasons.
In fact, in 2007, Li Keqiang, then-party secretary of Liaoning and now soon-to-be premier, said that GDP statistics were “for reference only” and “man-made,” and that for his purposes, he preferred to look at electricity consumption, rail cargo volume, and loan disbursements. He did not say this publically–rather, his statements (reflecting what many officials surely believe) came to light in 2010 in a U.S. government cable released by Wikileaks.