Local officials from China's key Northeast region have reportedly admitted that they faked economic data over the past few years when the real numbers were much lower.
Several officials have said they've significantly overstated data ranging from fiscal revenue and household income to GDP, and that this was a reason why the drop in the figures appears to have been so dramatic this year, reported China Daily while citing further reports from China's state-run Xinhua News Agency.
"If the past data had not been inflated, the current growth figures would not show such a precipitous fall," one official was quoted as saying.
The Liaoning province has especially been highlighted for its data discrepancy. According to Reuters, one county in the Liaoning province reported an extra fiscal revenue of 847 million yuan (around $131.3 million) in 2013, which was around 127% higher than the actual number.
The province's GDP growth three years ago was also reported at 9.5%, which is far above the current figure over the first three quarters of this year of just 2.7%. The Liaoning province accounts for nearly half of the total GDP of Northeast China, and its petrochemical and heavy industry sector makes Liaoning the seventh biggest economic producer among all of China's provinces.
Guan Yingmin, an official in the Heilongjiang province, added that local investment figures in the province were inflated by at least 20%. According to China Daily, that translates to nearly 100 billion yuan ($15.7 billion).
China's provincial and national economic numbers have always been under suspicion for their accuracy. A study by one economist estimated that from 1978 to 2012, China's GDP actually grew by 7.6%, which would be around 2.6% lower than the official 9.8% figure.