China has revised the method of calculating its GDP for the second time in less than a year by including spending on research and development to better reflect the role of innovation to growth, the government said on Tuesday amid global concerns over the data accuracy of the world’s second largest economy.
Under the new method, research and development expenditure that can bring economic benefit to companies will no longer be calculated as intermediate consumption but as fixed capital formation, China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said in a statement on Tuesday.
With adoption of the new method the size of China’s economy last year was about USD 130 billion larger than previously estimated.
The statistics agency claims that the new method “better reflects the contribution of innovation to economic growth.”
It will use the method for future GDP calculations, and has also recalculated all the figures dating back to 1952. Recorded GDP growth rates have changed slightly as a result. For instance, the growth rate for 2015 remained at 6.9 percent, revised up by 0.04 percentage point, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
The new method was adopted after China switched to quarter-on-quarter calculations in September, rather than using cumulative data, in a bid to adhere more closely to “international” standards, the NBS said at the time.
Also in September, the International Monetary Fund called on China to improve its economic data, especially its growth rate.
Questions have repeatedly been raised about the accuracy of official Chinese economic statistics, which critics say can be subject to political manipulation.
As the economic slowdown continued, the world’s second largest economy is shifting its focus from low-end manufacturing to high-technology products by boosting research and development.
China’s GDP figure has consistently hit targets set by the ruling Communist Party.
Last year, its gross domestic product growth slowed to 6.9 per cent, the weakest annual rate in a quarter of a century for the world’s second-largest economy, a mounting concern for global investors. The figure was the slowest in the People’s Republic since the 3.8 per cent of 1990, a year after the bloody Tiananmen Square crackdown rocked the country and isolated it internationally.
The performance of China, a major driver of the world economy, is a crucial concern for global investors.
Although China’s economic growth continues to slow, the central government has set a target of a minimum 6.5 per cent growth through 2020 to meet the goal of doubling per capita GDP in this decade.