Explainer: How Western media manipulate data to badmouth Chinese economy

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Western media journalists often position themselves as professionals who rely on data to substantiate their claims. However, a closer look reveals that their so-called “professionalism” is dented by their manipulation of statistics in efforts to paint a rosy picture of Western economies and gloomily portray China’s economy.

BEIJING, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) — A slew of sensational yet biased Western media reports about China’s economy have raised eyebrows recently, drawing attention to some of the old tricks employed by those media outlets to disgrace the Chinese economy.

Western media journalists often position themselves as professionals who rely on data to substantiate their claims. However, a closer look reveals that their so-called “professionalism” is dented by their manipulation of statistics in efforts to paint a rosy picture of Western economies and gloomily portray China’s economy.

A telling example is The Economist’s cover story on Aug. 26, which asserted that China’s annualized growth rate in the second quarter was a disappointing 3.2 percent, contrasting it with a seemingly robust U.S. economy with an annualized growth rate of nearly 6 percent.

It deliberately disregarded data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics, which showed a second-quarter year-on-year growth rate of 6.3 percent. Instead, it chose a quarter-on-quarter growth rate of 0.8 percent and projected this rate over the next three quarters to calculate the annualized growth rate, producing a lower figure than the year-on-year data.

In contrast, the estimate that the U.S. economy would see a “nearly 6 percent growth” was based on a prediction from a model by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, even as the bank itself had cautioned that this prediction was unreliable and exceeded market expectations by more than double.

If calculated with the method they used to assess China’s economy, the U.S. annualized GDP growth in Q2 of 2023 would be 2.1 percent, lower than that of China’s.

Such manipulation of data by using non-comparable statistical methods is far from professional journalism. It’s misleading at best.

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