Local officials in northeast China have admitted to inflating economic growth figures to win promotions, Xinhua has reported.

According to bogus Gross Domestic Product (GDP) statistics, some townships have bigger economies than Hong Kong, the state-run news agency said.

An official in Dalian, Liaoning told reporters a slump in the city’s industrial sector this year was unusually big because some of its previous growth was made up.

china gdp fraud
Photo: HKFP.

At least 20 percent of investment reported by Heilongjiang province in the past two years was not trustworthy, another official was cited as saying.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong-based Initium Media reported that China’s national GDP was 29.7 trillion in the first half of 2015, but regional GDPs added up to 32.4 trillion, a discrepancy of nine percent. In 2014, the subtotal of local economies in China was 7.5 percent bigger than the national size.

Statistics fraud has become so rampant that it has misled policy making and damaged government credibility, Xinhua noted.

Although the law stipulates that data fraud must be punished severely, in reality officials constantly get away with exaggerating growth figures.

Local governments in Heilongjiang, Liaoning and Jilin have vowed to rectify their mistakes and crack down on statistics fraud after inspections by central government officials last year, Xinhua said.

Vivienne Zeng is a journalist from China with three years' experience covering Hong Kong and mainland affairs. She has an MA in journalism from the University of Hong Kong. Her work has been featured on outlets such as Al Jazeera+ and MSNBC.