Chinese statistics: classification systems and data sources
China has become a popular geographic area of research. Researchers make extensive use of Chinese official statistics, but these statistics are often not well understood. This article first clarifies three major issues that affect a wide range of Chinese statistics—from output and employment data to industry profitability—and then elaborates on data sources. The three data issues are changes over time to the sectoral classification system, changes to the ownership classification system, and changes to the coverage of the industry sector. Many of these changes have gone unnoticed or remain poorly understood, leaving the researcher puzzled about varying labels, apparently inconsistent data, and discontinued time series. The second part of the paper offers a gateway to a wealth of Chinese statistics whose existence is not widely known. It also points out the limitations of some of these sources and provides an overview of the secondary literature that discusses the meaning and quality of particular Chinese statistics.
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