(Reuters) - China will step up scrutiny of the country's statistics agency and tackle the "outstanding problems" of data fraud and falsification, the Communist Party's anti-corruption inspection unit said on Friday.
While the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has "resolutely probed" and dealt with cases violating statistical discipline and laws in recent years, "the problem of statistical data fraud is still relatively prominent," said a statement from the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI).
The NBS publishes China's closely watched gross domestic product (GDP) numbers, among other key data.
China has set an annual economic growth target of around 5.5% this year but economists have questioned if the country is able to achieve it amid intensifying geopolitical challenges, global commodity price inflation and a zero-COVID policy that clogs supply chains.
A few regions created the "illusion of economic development" by falsifying data and some local authorities issued secret instructions to intervene in manipulating data.
Data fraud is being found in more areas including R&D funding ratios, energy intensity and carbon intensity that typically reflects the quality of economic and social development, the anti-graft watchdog said.
Energy intensity and carbon intensity indicate the amount of energy consumed and carbon emitted per unit of GDP, and are used to gauge the progress of a country's campaign to tackle climate change.
Inspectors from the CCDI added that some local officials prioritise economic growth and ignore other areas of economic development, or seek to show off their personal achievements through statistics.
The CCDI will carry out random inspections on data quality on a regular basis and supervise the establishment of an accountability system among local authorities to prevent and punish statistical fraud.
"We will relentlessly break the evil trends (of forging data)," it said.