Beijing orders manufacturing hub to stop producing economic data

via scmp:

  • Authorities in Guangdong, nation’s manufacturing powerhouse, told all future purchasing managers’ indexes will be produced by National Bureau of Statistics
  • Ruling comes ahead of what is likely to be tough start to 2019 for China’s economy as trade war bites

China’s central government has ordered authorities in the country’s export hub, Guangdong province, to stop producing a regional purchasing managers’ index for the manufacturing sector as it seeks to control the flow of sensitive economic data.

The order by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) means the province will now not release purchasing managers’ index (PMI) data for either October or November.

The move comes as Beijing looks to tighten its grip on the dissemination of economic news amid the trade war with the United States. Industry insiders and analysts raised concerns about what the move means for disclosure of the real impact of the conflict on local businesses.

The demise of Guangdong’s PMI came unannounced as the Guangdong government just stopped releasing the data.

When an individual inquired as to why Guangdong had stopped releasing its own PMI, the Guangdong Industry and Information Technology Department issued a brief statement on December 10, buried deep in the website, saying that it had received a notice from the NBS at the end of October and was told that all PMI compilations must be conducted by the NBS. Given this directive, it decided to stop compiling and releasing the provincial PMI from November 1 on.

Phone calls to the NBS information office went unanswered on Monday and the bureau has not replied to faxed questions from the South China Morning Post.

The Guangdong provincial PMI, complied by the Guangdong’s Industry and Information Technology Department, has been released on a monthly basis since November 2011.

When the Guangdong government decided to produce its own PMI that year, it said in a statement that Guangdong, which is a global manufacturing hub, was in need of its own PMI to help inform economic policymakers, enterprises and analysts so that they could accurately predict economic performance of the province and even the whole country.

“For instance, Chicago used to be the heartland of US manufacturing, and the Chicago PMI is often regarded one of the most significant [US] economic indicators by economists,” the Guangdong government said then. The Guangdong PMI is calculated based on a survey of 1,000 key enterprises in the province.