China halts release of industry-specific data from its purchasing managers' index over accuracy concerns, underscoring credibility issues surrounding China's economic statistics

August 26, 2013 () – China suspended the release of industry-specific data from a purchasing managers’ index for manufacturing because of accuracy concerns, the National Bureau of Statistics said.

“We can’t ensure all industry-specific data can reach accuracy requirements,” Sheng Laiyun, a statistics agency official, said at a briefing in Beijing today. “Samples in some industries are very small, and accidental changes may affect overall data quality -- we were concerned that some of the numbers may affect related investors and users.”

The statistics bureau and the China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing suspended the release of some industry-specific PMI data to subscribers, starting with the June numbers published in July. That halt underscored concerns over China’s economic statistics, from exports inflated by false invoicing to a national unemployment rate that excludes the nation’s millions of migrant workers.

“I don’t buy NBS’s explanation -- industry-specific data has been there for years and proved very useful in reading the Chinese economy,” said Xu Gao, chief economist with China Everbright Securities in Beijing, who previously worked for the World Bank. “Without these specific data, the credibility of China’s headline official PMI indicator is undermined,” Xu said, adding his firm has subscribed to the data for more than three years.

Cai Jin, vice president of the CFLP, which compiles the data with the NBS, said previously that publication of some data had been suspended because of limited time to analyze the large volume of responses.

Bigger Sample

The logistics federation increased the number of companies in its manufacturing survey to 3,000 from 820 starting with January’s reading and also regrouped the industries into 21 categories from 31. The latest release referred to 31 industry groups.

China’s official PMI rose to 50.3 in July from 50.1 in June as Chinese Premier Li Keqiang rolled out policies to arrest an economic slowdown.

“It’s true that industry-specific PMI can be very volatile,” said Xu Xiangchun, a steel researcher and chief analyst at, in Beijing. Xu said that while July numbers for a steel industry PMI were released after being suspended the previous month, numbers for other industries weren’t disclosed.

--Xin Zhou. Editors: Paul Panckhurst, Andrew Davis

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