China raises estimate of economy’s size following census


FILE – In this Nov. 1, 2019, file photo, an employee browses her smartphone at a clothing store having a promotion sale at a shopping mall in Shenzhen, China’s Guangdong province. China has raised its estimate of the size of its economy by 2.1% following a census, raising its gross domestic product for 2018 to 91.93 trillion yuan ($13.1 trillion), the National Bureau of Statistics said Frida, Nov. 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Andy Wong, File)

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BEIJING (AP) — China’s economy was 2.1% bigger than earlier estimated, the government said Friday, revising the gross domestic product for 2018 to 91.93 trillion yuan ($13.1 trillion) based on results of a census.

The National Bureau of Statistics said Friday the revision reflects more complete measures of the services sector and assets. It raises the possibility China’s communist leaders will attain their target of doubling the country’s GDP between 2010 and 2020.

The government also plans to issue revised GDP growth estimates for the world’s second largest economy but did not say when.

The earlier estimate put the GDP in 2018 at 90.03 trillion yuan ($12.8 trillion). That’s still well below the U.S. GDP in 2018 of $20.5 trillion. But the U.S. economy expands at a much slower pace — 2.9% in 2018 — than China’s.

China’s economy expanded at an annual pace of 6.0% in the July-September quarter, the slowest growth since 1992, as a tariff war with the U.S. and slowing global demand hammered its manufacturing sector. Businesses and consumers unnerved by the uncertain outlook for jobs and growth also have reined in spending in another drag on growth.

But given China’s still faster growth and population of 1.4 billion people, it’s expected to soon overtake the U.S. as the world’s largest economy.

Chinese economic data are subject to more than the usual caveats about the reliability of statistics given past examples of officials distorting information for political reasons.

Though it’s part of the long-term plan to restructure the economy, slowing growth runs counter to the ruling Communist Party’s plan, adopted in 2012, to double the size of the economy between 2010 and 2020.

“The census revisions will also attract skepticism, but to a lesser degree, and should at least give NBS (the statistics bureau) more room to acknowledge downward pressure on growth in the coming quarters,” Capital Economics economists Julian Evans-Pritchard and Martin Rasmussen said in a commentary.

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