Chinese statisticians are set for a challenging year in 2007 as the government goes about reforming its statistical methods to provide a better indication of China's economic health.
"Successful statistical work must be able to quantify development in terms of energy conservation, industrial restructuring and technical innovation as well reflect the changes among the migrant population and employment," Xie Fuzhan, director of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), told a recent work conference in Beijing.
Over the past few decades, the government's statistical analysis has focused narrowly on gross domestic product (GDP) and local officials keen to climb the ladder have worshipped figures that demonstrate rapid economic expansion.
But this year the central government has repeatedly stressed the need for "quality" over "quantity".
One measure announced by the central government is to take back local governments' rights to calculate regional GDP and to station its own survey teams in local governments to prevent the fabrication of figures.
One of the most important tasks of the year is to give more weight to service economy statistics, Xie said. The NBS noted that the tertiary industry made up 40.7 percent of GDP in 2004.
Xie said that the NBS hopes to constitute a framework for service economy statistics by the end of the year, complete with a set of efficient and uniform standards for information gathering and statistics supervising.
In keeping with Karl Marx's Labor Value Theory which upholds material production and plays down the service sector, China adopted the Material Production System under its planned economy to calculate national economic growth and ignored the production value of the service industry.
Although China shifted to the System of National Accounts, an international statistical standard for the measurement of the market economy, in 1995, the country's service economy remains underestimated.
Xie said the NBS was considering a direct information gathering mechanism for enterprises engaged in retailing, wholesale, and the hospitality industry.
Random inspections would also be launched this year targeting property management, intermediary businesses, small retailers and hotels, he added.
The statistical reform will certainly target the real estate sector. "There is a gap between government property statistics and what the general public feel. In some regions different figures were released by various governmental departments, confusing both the market and consumers," Xie said.