Beijing’s first “red alert” raises an even more important question about the veracity of Chinese data on, not only the environment, but economic growth and other vital statistics. Minxin Pei reports for Nikkei Asian Review.
By Minxin Pei for the Nikkei Asian Review, published on December 16, 2015
The first-ever air pollution red alert sounded by Beijing on Dec. 8 received the international attention it deserved. The foul, orange-tinged air suffocating the Chinese capital is the most visible failure of the performance-conscious Chinese government in delivering on its promises to clean up the country’s severely degraded environment.
We should all welcome the Beijing municipal government’s public, albeit humiliating, acknowledgement of the obvious: Beijing’s air is not fit for breathing. Yet, Beijing’s first “red alert” raises an even more important question about the credibility of the Chinese government. Is it telling the truth about the true state of China’s environmental degradation?
Autocratic regimes are known to exaggerate their achievements and conceal their failings. And the Chinese Communist Party is no exception. For example, Beijing’s economic statistics are so dodgy that the international business community have grave doubts about the veracity of Chinese data on economic growth (almost certainly overstated), unemployment (likely understated), and nonperforming loans (deliberately underreported).