December 7th, 2010
12:31 PM GMT
Beijing (CNN) – Every month, investors, analysts, economists, and journalists pore over China's latest batch of economic data. We spend hours sifting through official numbers hoping to get a better gauge of China's economic future. Maybe we'd be better off throwing darts.
U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks suggest that China's leaders are aware their economic numbers get a little massaging. One cable dating back to 2007 refers to a dinner conversation between China's now vice premier Li Keqiang and the U.S. ambassador at the time. Li reportedly said statistics, including gross domestic product, are "for reference only." The cable paraphrases Li saying GDP data is man-made. Li is tapped to be the next premier, leading the nation's economic policy.
As with all these WikiLeaks, it's important to remember these are off the cuff remarks. However, RBS economist Ben Simpendorfer says the comments underscore the challenges China's leaders face in truly understanding their own rapidly evolving economy. "The data is improving," he told me. "But, in such a large and fast growing country, it is difficult to get accurate data."
Yet how long before reality catches up and China, along with the rest of the global economy, suffers?
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