China indefinitely postpones releasing economic data

The announcement worries Western economists who were estimating a 3.2% growth in the third quarter.

China announced on Monday that they were indefinitely postponing the release of its economic data. The announcement came as a surprise to enonomists who claim that delaying the publication of its GDP is something the Chinese government rarely does.

Moreover, it also fails to build trust among Western economists, who already saw that China's weak economic growth could mean a gray future for the country. They expected growth of approximately 3.2% in the third quarter (July through September) compared to the same period last year. This would be higher than the 0.4% average for the second half of the year. The Chinese government explained that this was due several companies having to close down in Shanghai for two months due to Covid-19. However, this 3% is well below Beijing's March growth rate estimate of "around 5.5% this year."

An unusual measure

It is not only strange that China, the world's second most powerful economy, is postponing its GDP announcement. The rest of the countries are not hiding this data so as not to damage the economic market or the thousands of operations that could be affected. Other operations have had to be postponed due to what is happening at the National Bureau of Statistics of China after Monday's announcement. George Magnus, Associate Professor at the China Centre at the University of Oxford stated that this is something that he has never witnessed. He told The New York Times "I have never before encountered a situation in which a whole series of statistical reports have been postponed, in nearly half a century of monitoring data publication, even in times of pestilence and conflict."

Standard Bank Group Ltd's Chief China Economist, Jeremy Stevens explained to Bloomberg that suddenly postponing the release of this data "is not a good look, but I'm not surprised given the importance of the event that is happening." He refers to the National Congress of the Communist Party, a meeting that takes place twice every ten years and lasts an entire week. The event is of great importance to the country that involves a whole array of security measures that George Magnus spoke about recently: