Long a hub for foreign trade, Guangzhou saw a 10.2 percent contraction in overseas commerce in the first quarter. One year before, foreign trade had grown by 31.9 percent.
Despite apparently overtaking Guangzhou, Tianjin’s quarterly growth was the worst of all 29 provinces, regions and municipalities which submitted data. The GDP growth rate of 1.9 percent came in stark contrast to the 8.0 percent growth published by authorities in 2017’s first quarter.
Cong Yi, a professor at the Tianjin University of Finance and Economics, told the Global Times last month, “Tianjin has had to curb its traditional sectors such as heavy and chemical industries. But while these industries have been shrinking in Tianjin, the new growth drivers such as high-end manufacturing have not been strong enough to replace the lost GDP.”
Tianjin’s statistics bureau came under fire in January, with Xinhua reporting that the city had inflated its economic data.
Tianjin’s Binhai New Area admitted to data inflation, and revised down its 2016 GDP figures by more than one third to 665.4 billion yuan (102.3 billion US dollars). The area had initially claimed it was the first Chinese special economic zone to hit 1 trillion yuan GDP, ahead of Shanghai’s Pudong New Area.
Data inflation has previously been uncovered in northeast China’s Liaoning Province, with exaggerated numbers reported between 2011 and 2014, according to Xinhua. Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region admitted last year that 2016 industrial data was inflated by as much as 40 percent.
The central government has said it has zero tolerance for any fabrication of economic data, with Xinhua calling official efforts to curb data inflation “conducive to high-quality development.”