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China defends GDP data accuracy as 7% expansion raises questions

[BEIJING] China's statistics office defended its gross domestic product data after economists questioned recent numbers that showed the economy is growing faster than anticipated.

The National Bureau of Statistics uses "high quality" raw data and methods "in line with international standards and norms" for results that "objectively reflected" economic reality, Xu Xianchun, a deputy head in charge of compiling the number, said in a statement on Friday.

More than 900,000 companies across the country can now directly report their data to the bureau without the need to go through local governments, he said.

China's GDP expanded 7 per cent in April-June from a year earlier, data showed Thursday, faster than the 6.8 per cent median forecast of 39 economists in a Bloomberg survey. Capital Economics Ltd said it's probably overestimated by as many as two per centage points due to an inaccurate GDP deflator.

"Data doubters do not give China's statisticians enough credit for the substantial improvements that have been made in data collection and transparency in the last decade," said Tom Orlik, an economist with Bloomberg in Beijing and the author of Understanding China's Economic Indicators.

"China's economic data still lags behind the US, but relative to many other emerging markets, the level of detail, timeliness and transparency in the data is rather high."

Questions were also raised this year about India's new method of calculating GDP. India's revisions this year made it the world's fastest growing major economy as China slows.