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China's GDP Growth Pace Was Inflated for Nine Years, Study Finds (bloomberg.com)
170 points by jonbaer on Mar 10, 2019 | hide | past | web | favorite | 90 comments

Not surprising at all, the government is uncannily accurate in their prediction (growth will be 6.9% this year, at the end of the year: hey look, we did it!). Kind of like how almost every province usually has a 4.0% unemployment rate.

That isn't to say China's GDP hasn't been growing, just that the numbers are always being fudged one way or the other. They used to even fudge the numbers down (growth higher than reported) to prevent the appearance of overheating.

It is ironic that Li Keqiang is premiere (#2) but Xi Jinping has decided not to use his index (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Li_Keqiang_index) that gets around fudging with more accurate statistics.

> It is ironic that Li Keqiang is premiere (#2) but Xi Jinping has decided not to use his index (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Li_Keqiang_index) that gets around fudging with more accurate statistics.

Li Keqiang Index has three components, electricity consumption, railway cargo volume and bank loans. They all had pretty good growth, e.g.



People need to be realistic, China's current GDP per capita is lower than world's average, it is an extremely poor country totally under developed. With the largest domestic market and hard working population, how hard will it be to grow at 6-7% to catch up with some in the middle of nowhere countries with $20k USD GDP per capita?

China is huge and heterogeneous - the coastal cities are well developed and there are 100s of millions of people living in Shanghai, Beijing, Hong-Kong, Shenzhen etc who are well on their way towards western level of development.

For example the Yangtze River Delta has more than 100m people (more than any European country) and GPD(PPP) per capita similar to Italy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yangtze_River_Delta

> Millions of people living in ... Hong Kong... who are well on their way towards western level of development

Hong Kong is a developed country.

It has a public housing system, a public healthcare system, and amazing transport.

It has massive issues with income equality, and particular poverty in old age.

However, it doesn't belong in a comparison beside cities in China.

> public housing system, a public healthcare system

These are the sign of a developed country?

They're secondary points relating to quality of life and social security that distinguish Hong Kong from China.

Well in most Asian cultures taking care of your relatives and elderly is primarily done by the family. Offloading this duty to the state is not a sign of development but a sign of different culture. There are well regarded measures of human development, like the HDI.

"The Human Development Index (HDI) is a statistic composite index of life expectancy, education, and per capita income indicators, which are used to rank countries into four tiers of human development. A country scores a higher HDI when the lifespan is higher, the education level is higher, and the GNI (PPP) per capita is higher. It was developed by Pakistani economist Mahbub ul Haq, with help from Gustav Ranis of Yale University and Lord Meghnad Desai of the London School of Economics, and was further used to measure a country's development by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP)'s Human Development Report Office"

According to Wikipedia China has a HDI of 0.752 which is considered high, 86th position on the list of countries. Hong Kong also has high HDI, 0.933, very high, 7th position.

This comparison is much better than trying to come up with an arbitrary measure.

My primary point was that Hong Kong is not directly comparable to cities in China.

I also readily say "Hong Kong is not China".

Although, as time goes on, the truth of that statement is eroded.

> For example the Yangtze River Delta has more than 100m people (more than any European country) and GPD(PPP) per capita similar to Italy

I won't make such comment by completely ignoring the wellbeings of other hundreds million people who live just a couple hours drive from the so called Yangtze River Delta. To name a few examples -

Anhui province is so poor to the extent that it is offensive to ask people questions like "so you came from Anhui?" in Shanghai.


Henan province has 100 million population on its own, it is nothing really different from the least developed part of Africa.


Those are real people & real lives. How the other 100 million slightly better off Chinese living in Shanghai or Beijing doesn't change the absolute poverty suffered by those hundreds millions not living in tier-1 or tier-2 Chinese cities. Anything painting China as a rich/developed/modern/high tech country is nothing else but cheap propaganda.

Let's make it crystal clear - China's GDP per capita is below the world average. The OP article further pointed out that such reported GDP figures might be inflated as well. When the GDP per capita is below world average, how it is not a poor country significantly under developed?? The only real risk China can possibly pose to the world/west is the fact that a collapsed China can trouble the whole world/west.

When China is damn poor, it is thus much easier to develop and grow 6-7% each year. It is like cutting 1s is easy when it takes you 20-25s to run 100 meters, but it is close to impossible to do the same when you are already finishing 100 meters in 11s. China's GDP is growing 6-7% not because it is smart/modern/strong, it is the complete opposite, it is because China's GDP per capita is well below world's average!

While I agree with the points you're making, I'm not too sure how much generalizable wisdom there is to extract from it. Forget a couple hours drive, I could take a 30s elevator ride to the ground floor in SF and see widespread medieval levels of existence.

And the Ukraine is just 500km from Vienna. I don't dispute China is a developing country, I just think a lot of westerners don't realize how huge and - in parts - how developed it is.

People hear "China is a developing country" and think it's comparable to countries like Bangladesh or Cambodia. But the tier-1 cities and their peripheries are not some tiny enclaves of wealth like Singapore, they are huge - bigger than major European countries.

The fact that poor/undeveloped areas are relatively nearby does not make them less developed than the fact that Moldova and Kosovo are in the EU's backyard make Germany undeveloped.

> Ukraine is just 500km from Vienna

those are two vastly different independent countries.

> how developed it is

can we just cut all cheap talks and focus on undisputed facts and numbers? the undisputed facts here is extremely simple -

1. China's official GDP per capita is well below world's average.

2. The research in the OP article shows such official figure is highly inflated.

You can keep painting China as "developed" or "developed in some selected areas", the above undisputed facts won't change. Hundreds of millions of Chinese live well below the world average standard when it comes to their economic lives. Selectively ignoring the real life situation of hundreds of millions just to back what you believe is not that convincing.

Can we have a more subtle and less one-dimensional discussion? I'm not claiming you are wrong.

China is upper middle income, so its wealth is comparable to Mexico, Brazil, and Thailand. Now, many people don't really get how rich those countries are either (e.g. many Americans think Mexico is an undeveloped struggling place when they are biased by a borderlands and illegal immigrants that are very different from the rest of Mexico).

> When the GDP per capita is below world average, how it is not a poor country significantly under developed??

Perhaps cause it is not possible that every person in the world would be living above world average? Especially in the country that is home to almost 1/6 of total world population.

In many countries there are huge regional differences but I hope that after 30 years of growth even people living in poor provinces of China are better off. Even if the statistics are trumped up for propaganda reasons.

which is exactly why trump's trade war is do ridiculous, china is still a developing country, let her enjoy her developing country benefits

Just because you’re trading with a developing country doesn’t mean you should agree to unfair trade practices.

unfair how? certainly not according to WTO

Unfair in that at least until recently, it was basically a standard requirement that IP must be shared when building a factory in China, there was a required Chinese ownership component. That is unfair

I am not sure why you are downvoted, agree with much of it, sort of disagree with

> how hard will it be to grow at 6-7% to catch up with some in the middle of nowhere countries with $20k USD GDP per capita?

It seems people are now downvoting comments they don't like. You may not like the above comment, but it is hard to argue against it as they are facts. This to me, is a much bigger problem on HN right now. The quality of discussion ( especially anything to do with China ) is dropping.

>It seems people are now downvoting comments they don't like.

This isn't new. It's been part of HN since the beginning. pg said this a decade ago.

>I think it's ok to use the up and down arrows to express agreement. Obviously the uparrows aren't only for applauding politeness, so it seems reasonable that the downarrows aren't only for booing rudeness.

Maybe he or the current mods have changed their minds since then or maybe they haven't, but it's been part of the culture here from the start.

>You may not like the above comment, but it is hard to argue against it as they are facts.

I didn't personally downvote it, but I don't think people who did are necessarily arguing with facts. Parts of the comment were facts, and parts were conjecture. Downvoting the comment because you disagree with the conjecture seems reasonable to me.

I think the best reason to downvote or upvote is because you think it will improve the community or conversation. Why and how that vote leads to a result is up to you to theorize.

It may be that if you personally upvote strong comments, you aren't doing anything interesting because you're promoting an already strong predictor, something which the community has no trouble detecting.

Gentle reminder - all of the above comments are against the guidelines - a.k.a. the house rules.

I have learned this the hard way by being flagged on China related topics. We aren't here for a flame-war or to even mention the word 'downvoted'.

I am personally of the opinion that China are way ahead of us and that there is a tide of lazy views relating to our hard working, highly educated Chinese friends. Fun fact: the Iron Age came to China 2000 years before we think the Iron Age happened.

Hence my suggestion. Rather than take the bait or think you can make a reasoned comment in response to something ignorant, use the 'flag' button. If it breaks the house rules, flag it and it goes. In this way we can hopefully improve discourse regarding anything China related.

Not only that, but people tend to downvote anything that challenges the status quo about states, governments and anything outside of the Western world.

And here is an article about Debt in China. [1] While you can bet those number aren't 100% accurate, you can see the overall picture isn't so bad. Unless they are off by an order of magnitude, which I seriously doubt that will be the case.

This doesn't mean I am pro China in anything. Just stating some alternative views. I just wish they open up their market and level up the playing field for foreign companies.

[1] https://viewfromthewilds.blogspot.com/2019/03/v-behaviorurld...

That index has similar problems to the one mentioned in the article, though. Depending on how you weight them you overweight heavy industry and undercount services, which don't really use the railway cargo network and don't consume a terribly crazy amount of electricity (and use appliances that have seen marked increases in energy efficiency).

I remember mentioning a double digit overaccounting to my econ prof in 2011 and being laughed off: "Economic stats of major nations are all being compiled, revised, and audited with involvement of no joke international institutes"

Now, how these no joke international institutes miss a double digit overaccounting for over a decade?

Can we do something about every article remotely ctitical of China being flagged.

I'm assuming that's what happened since this article very quickly moved from 1st place to below other articles that are older and have far fewer comments and upvotes.

Edit: currently #21 despite more upvotes and comments and being newer than the top 3 articles.

It's actually the opposite. Every comment not critical of China gets downvoted quickly. Proof: comments on this article and other articles critical of China, remotely or overtly.

Downvoting is different from flagging. Articles can't be downvoted only flagged.

If you look at the comments in the thread that have been flag killed, they are mostly low quality comments on both sides of the issue.

And looking at downvoted comments, there doesn't seem to be much correlation at all between upvotes and whether the comment is critical of China.

> they are mostly low quality comments on both sides of the issue.

Please have a look at the other reply I made in this thread, when someone mentioned that Li Keqiang Index and argued that it is a better indicator of China's real GDP growth, I listed recent figures to show that if Li Keqiang Index is actually more reliable, there would be higher real GDP growth. My cited numbers are from Caixin, which is considered as a pretty reliable private source.

What happened to my reply? My "low quality" comment is downvoted within seconds. I don't think China bashing comments are being treated the same way.

Rather than just blindly marking other people's replies as of "low quality", maybe you can share some more details on why my downvoted reply above is of low quality and how can I improve from that.

Oh, btw, with high confidence that this reply is going to be downvoted fast.

I upvoted your last comment, and upvoted this one. I disagree with they are a "better" indicator to what other part of the world uses, but agree with the the index being more reliable than the current one China is using. Agree with the Caixin sources as well.

I generally don't downvote something unless they are, meaningless, offer no value to discussions or spreading wrong information that could easily be disproved.

Was your comment flag killed? If it was, it isn't currently.

And since I know it wasn't when I made my comment, I wasn't talking about your comment. Downvoting is different from flagging.

Enable viewing dead comments, scroll to the bottom, and tell me they aren't low quality.

Also 2/3 of the dead comments I see right now are anti-China comments.

Downvotes usually settle over time.

I didn't flag it so can't speak of the motivation of those that did but my observation is that the vast majority of China-critical articles that have dropped in rank happen to be from bloomberg. I definitely wouldn't consider bloomberg a trustworthy source when it comes to analysis of china, so I could imagine that being a motivator.

The article states that the provinces have a material reason to inflate. The provincial governments are far stronger than people routinely seem to understand, we're obsessed by the strong statist arguments of 'scary China' and don't think about their internal structure and where strength and weakness lies.

I believe Chinese central planners don't like misleading numbers, it makes the five year plan much harder to design. The Chinese technocrats wouldn't like this situation any more than western investment does.

I would decouple the economic and political realities of “the mountains are tall and the emperor far away” from national military might.

Vietnam, Russia, Tibet and other neighbors can attest that that one is not like the other.

Possibly, yes. The article I responded to focused on the economy. Do you see signs of Chinese territorial ambition, spratleys aside?

China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea are ridiculously broad. The nine dash line in particular is insane, extending into the EEZ of six other countries. China claims that entire area, not as its EEZ but as territorial waters.


> The disputes involve both maritime boundaries and islands.[8] There are several disputes, each of which involves a different collection of countries:

> The nine-dash line area claimed by the Republic of China, later the People's Republic of China (PRC), which covers most of the South China Sea and overlaps the exclusive economic zone claims of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Maritime boundary along the Vietnamese coast between the PRC, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Maritime boundary north of Borneo between the PRC, Malaysia, Brunei, Philippines, and Taiwan. Islands, reefs, banks and shoals in the South China Sea, including the Paracel Islands, the Pratas Islands, Macclesfield Bank, Scarborough Shoal and the Spratly Islands between the PRC, Taiwan, and Vietnam, and parts of the area also contested by Malaysia and the Philippines. Maritime boundary in the waters north of the Natuna Islands between the PRC, Indonesia and Taiwan[9] Maritime boundary off the coast of Palawan and Luzon between the PRC, the Philippines, and Taiwan. Maritime boundary, land territory, and the islands of Sabah, including Ambalat, between Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Maritime boundary and islands in the Luzon Strait between the PRC, the Philippines, and Taiwan.

Taiwan should also obviously be added to the list of China's territorial ambitions. They're openly aggressively intent on annexing Taiwan by any means required, despite it being a separate, self-governed nation for the last half century. They're the 21st largest economy in the world. It would be by far the biggest conquering event in terms of a major nation being annexed since the WW2 era.

I can’t understand the downvotes on this post. The PRC has never controlled Taiwan and has made annexing it (with other words to hide intent) an explicit goal. Of course Taiwan is a territorial ambition of the PRC.

Apparently China's claim to the Spratly Islands only emerged in the 20th century, and was just a result of errors in translation and cartography.


In college I remember a professor saying something similar caused problems during the Great Leap Forward. The local cadres were overestimating their production numbers so the central government exported rice to Albania or other allies thinking they had a surplus when in fact there was a shortage. I'm sure that wasn't the only reason there were problems at the time, but it didn't help.

If by "caused problems" you mean "killed millions by starvation", then yes.

They had a habit of killing local technocrats who didn't report strong numbers, though, so I can understand why someone would say their starving town had a grain surplus. And of course the guy doing the killing is under a similar threat, all the way to the top.

It's especially notable that China has been caught inflating their GDP numbers because their Paris Agreement carbon output was tied directly to carbon per unit GDP, see https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/paris-climate-confe...

Indian. I am not sure if our GDP numbers are correct either.

If anything, for India it is the other way around due to the massive informal economy and tax avoidance.

Indian numbers could be fudged, but is out in the bare for financial firms, banks and bond holders to examine.

And yes, India's GDP is probably higher because of the gigantic informal economy. People are richer than their tax documents make them seem.

Apart from the opposition parties, I could not find a single reputed source that says India's GDP numbers are fudged.

Economists (e.g. Michael Pettis) were already calling China out for its long history inflated numbers when the 2007-2009 crisis erupted. Perhaps this view might go mainstream with the looming recession?

> Perhaps this view might go mainstream with the looming recession?

Nobody, including Beijing, took China’s official statistics at face value. What’s novel in this work is the larger-than-expected magnitude of the error.

The article mentions China overstated its growth by an average of 1.7 percentage points per year since 2008.

Best I recollect from back when I was reading Pettis' blog on a regular basis, that figure is actually lower than what he was been suggesting China had been overstating its growth by in the decade prior to 2008.

Pettis is about as specialized in China financial markets as you can get, having basically studied and blogging about the stuff exclusively insofar as I'm aware while living and teaching finance there. He has many criticisms of how China is reporting numbers. One in particular is that local officials are expected to meet certain GDP targets. When the numbers don't look like they'll be in, they'll take on debt and build a bridge to nowhere to make their numbers.

The point being, from where I'm standing from there doesn't seem to be anything new in the magnitude of the error. (It's great if the article made you privy about how overstated the economy was.)

Economists have also predicted 5 Chinese recessions, and 4 American ones in the past decade.

That the bubble will pop isn't very interesting. When, is.

Is anyone surprised? The government in China has to manage for image internally to their population. I am not saying this is bad, it is just the trap the current government is in. They have of move to a non export driven economy. The cost of building in kit in China has just climbed. Low end manufacturing has been moving out for years. China still has a wealth gap issue they are trying to manage. This means they have to move to a domestic spending driven economy as fast as they can.

Reminds me very much of the Soviet Union. CPSU could also produce whatever paper numbers they wanted. Whether any of them matched reality was another story entirely. Everyone knows how that ended.

That said, I no longer trust the mass media to report something like this accurately either. For all we know someone might be throwing in a narrative to help (or hurt) the ongoing trade negotiations.

Western economists have desperate view with China's economy for two decades, and their faces have been slapped for two decades.

1-2% overstatement of GDP, if that's big news, that will depreciate the Chinese currency and boost the exports more.

The winds of exaggeration blow still. [1]

[1] https://foreignpolicy.com/2009/03/10/beijings-gdp-numerology...

And everything is fine.... maybe GDP is not important anyway.

How does the study capture the growth in the services sector?

Could someone explain why this is on HN? I ask because this comes up often on other non-tech topics. Personally I'm happy these topics can be discussed here.

Eh, it's really actually pretty hard to calculate GDPs. Many countries can't get within 1% due to reasons, so 1.6% per year isn't that big of a difference. China also has interesting accounting systems that actually might under-count the GDP, for example the GDP calculations mostly ignore the GDP of small firms.

> Companies with annual revenue below 360k RMB (roughly 53k USD) are exempt from VAT tax and all subsequent taxes. China has more than 65 million (2017 estimate) such micro companies, often single person, or single family (two people). If you multiply the two numbers together, it is up to 3.4 trillion USD per year. Just assuming only 1/4 to 1/2 is achieved, that is a 0.85 to 1.70 trillion USD economy, roughly 7% to 14% of overall Chinese GDP will have to be estimated, and can be potentially massively under reporting.

source: https://www.reddit.com/r/Economics/comments/aycs6x/chinas_20... - I will probably look this up in the future but can't verify this comment right now.

Here's a paper from the National Bureau of Economics Research that suggests that Chinese GDP might be understated: https://www.nber.org/papers/w23323 - this paper analyzes Chinese GDP by looking at its nighttime light usage. In this vein, I've heard that government actually tries to be conservative with the numbers so as to avoid the overstatement claims, but I have 0 sources on this.

For the Brookings paper linked in the post, one big issue with it is that it didn't account for a tax-related change that happened in 2008-09. See this reddit comment for details: https://www.reddit.com/r/Economics/comments/aycs6x/chinas_20... - this means that the overstatement is still there, but probably smaller. The author of that reddit comment emailed the authors but hasn't heard back.

It does seem like everyone will take the "OMG CHINA FAKES EVERYTHING" at face value as it confirms their biases. I don't want to speak on either side of it, growing up in China we/my parents/friends all make fun of the GDP numbers and call them chicken butt (鸡的屁 sounds like GDP). Maybe the core of the issue is that no one really has transparency so it's really hard to tell for sure, so no one, domestic or foreign, trusts the numbers given by the government. If so, maybe the objective ways of doing analysis, like satellite footage on night time lights, is the way to go (not to say the article I linked is thus 100% the truth). Anyone have other ideas on what indicators, like nighttime lights, can be used here?

Very reasonable comments.

I don't know why some people are so emotional about China. Sounds like they have lost something in their lifes.

An adult conversation is a fact driven conversation. That is the basic culture for HN v.s. places like reddit.

GDP is a manipulable number that has lost its accurate meaning. Even the ratings of the TVs have multi-aspects now.

no not china, no way!

It has been no secret that any numbers from china needs to taken with a grain salt.


I think every country does that

China "inflating" AKA lying about economic numbers is widely known and accepted by US stock market folks and analysts.

I'm sure all countries have been cooking the books.

One easy way to measure GDP is count their new large truck sales. That number is hard to game.

All countries inflate GDP, because there is always a gap of uncertainty about existing economic activity and governments like larger numbers. And since Chinese growth is higher than in other parts of the world, it is normal that the gap be larger, in the range of 1%.

I don't think this is true. Certainly in many countries GDP calculations are transparent. The economists calculating them are bureaucrats who serve the government, not whichever party is currently in power.

Oh, right, the same kind of people who gave AAA status to mortgage based derivatives. You must live in a different world, then.

Consider that Fannie and Freddie were allowed not to provide detailed financials to congress for several years in a row preceding the 2008 housing collapse.

It's not a matter of "oh wow, a major government fudges numbers", it's "how many major ways in which my government fudges numbers might I not be aware of?"

> Fannie and Freddie were allowed not to submit financials to markets for several years in a row preceding the 2008 housing collapse


I’m searching and can’t find one. I also remember reading Fannie & Freddie prospectuses from that time. Each contained extensive financial disclosures.

This article doesn’t support your original claim at all.

> This article doesn’t support your original claim at all.

  Could Fannie’s officers really have been accurately
  disclosing the risks the firm was taking shortly before
  its sudden collapse? It is here where the case got complicated.
  While he was chief executive, Mr. Mudd said that subprime
  mortgages accounted for about 2 percent or less of the
  mortgages Fannie Mae was insuring. The commission’s case
  largely rested on the fact that this percentage did not
  include the insurer’s longstanding programs for low-credit
  score borrowers, Expanded Approval and MyCommunityMortgage.
  The theory about the Alt-A loan disclosures was also not
  that Fannie had not disclosed that it was in the business.
  It classified a number of its loans as Alt-A, and told
  investors as much. But it did not disclose that it had
  instructed lenders not to classify certain other loans as
  Alt-A, even though they were also supported by low
The 2008 crisis definitely involved some sort of fudging or failure to disclose. But it also involved failure to see systemic risks building.

Management fudging numbers is a big difference form “they weren’t allowed to disclose”

The fudging was intended at first to make the books look a bit better and juice the profits.

Then, once it became clear that there was a lot more risk than they had thought, the goal of the fudging became preventing the markets from finding out about the risk, to keep prices high and avoid financial loss.

I'm quite sure it's true, but I can't seem to find the original citation.

There were congressional hearings in 2005 because the GSEs couldn't produce financials.

They were, to put it bluntly, fudging their numbers [1]. (From what I can tell, they were releasing timely statements to investors.) This was disclosed by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight and rectified well before the financial crisis. Taken together, it is a bad analogy for the systemic mid-reporting of economic data by China.

[1] http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/ofheo200605...

It was not rectified. It is analogous because it was a heavily leveraged lie — lots of policy consequences flowed from it.

It’s not the size of the lie, it’s the degree to which you can leverage it. For policy makers, the best practice is to use plausibly deniable, small, but highly leveraged lies.

> Consider that Fannie and Freddie were allowed not to submit financials to markets for several years in a row preceding the 2008 housing collapse

Source? I worked in that industry at that time & there was lots of odd things going on, there was never a whiff of non-reporting on their part that I remember.

As an outside observer, another example would be the constant redefinition of US unemployment (I hear it is now "people who haven't actively sought work for 3 months are no longer considered unemployed") which IIRC from an article has dropped US unemployment figures. It sounds like reality may differ substantially, and there is certainly a huge underground/cash economy.

The US BLS has long kept many different measures of unemployment.

All of these numbers are watched to extreme degrees by market participants. The idea that they are constantly redefined doesn’t hold up to basic analysis by anyone who has traded on that data.

You do not recall correctly, and since the correct information is so readily available I suspect you're just lying to try and make a political point. The definition of unemployment hasn't changed in our lifetimes.


Err, I stand corrected. Thanks for assuming the worst of my character! I must have remembered reading some kind of article around the time summarized at https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2011/12/os_legacy_u...

Not going to dispute the facts of this comment, but to me this sounds like whataboutism, wherein the commenter tries to neutralize criticism by creating an equivalency with other entities which might be worthy of the same criticism. It's a rhetorical strategy that seems to come up a lot on the internet, especially when the CCP is the subject.


This seems a straw man argument. Whataboutism is not necessarily to neutralize critism. It is to show that sometimes China or a particular entity is held to a unreasonably high standard. How high the standard for GDP calculation is for debate, but we should not dismiss an argument by labeling it as whataboutism.

Exactly. My point in making the initial comment was not to defend China, but simply to attempt to prevent the knee-jerk "America has great institutions" jingoism that is such a common reaction to stories about corruption in foreign governments.

But as can be seen from my comment being brutally down voted, the force of jingoism is very strong.

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