China delays releasing its economic data

China delays releasing its economic data
FILE PHOTO: Diners eat in front of a screen showing live broadcast of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s speech at the opening ceremony of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, inside a restaurant in Beijing, China October 16, 2022. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

All heads are turned toward China’s Communist Party Congress right now. As we reported yesterday, President Xi’s opening speech on Sunday covered a ton of ground, and we’ll be seeing how different leadership races unfold under his vision of China’s future.

But, this week, we were also supposed to get a better idea of China’s recent past with the release of important economic data. For instance, the GDP data for China’s third quarter was supposed to come out on Tuesday. But, according to an updated calendar on the statistic bureau’s website, its release has been delayed.

It’s not clear when this data will be released, and the delay is throwing a wrench in the Chinese market, causing speculation that the numbers may be worse than expected. The delay may add to investors‘ uncertainty, but other analysts say it’s unsurprising because the focus is on other big announcements coming out of the Party congress.

Key comments:

“The delayed economic data release is not because of bad economic recovery but the ongoing congress, as authorities want media and the public to concentrate on the key messages delivered by the big event," said Bruce Pang, chief economist at Jones Lang Lasalle in Hong Kong.

“I’ve not come across before a situation where a whole raft of statistical reporting has just been postponed, in nearly half a century of monitoring data releases – not even in times of pestilence and conflict," said George Magnus, an associate at the China Center at Oxford University.

“This [delay] could cause some uncertainties and cautiousness among investors in the absence of explanation for such an unusual delay," said Ken Cheung, chief Asia FX strategist at Mizuho Bank.