I used to work for China’s National Bureau of Statistics


The recent announcement that Wang Baoan, the head of National Bureau of Statistics of China is under investigation for serious violations has sent shock waves across the country and the beyond.


China’s statistics bureau is supposed to provide its leaders with assessment of its economic strengths and weaknesses, and investors and corporate leaders with accurate information to make sound investment or financial decisions.  Amid China’s falling stock market and shrinking manufacturing sector, the news has added doubts over the reliability of China’s economic data. While the bureau has consistently defended its credibility, there is widespread of concerns that China’s GDP growth rate was exaggerated.


According to NY Times, an economic analyst in London estimates that China’s GDP growth reached only 3.2% last year, which was a far cry from 6.9% that the bureau claimed.


The skepticism and concerns over the reliability of the bureau’s data has deeply disturbed me. Before I came to Canada, I had briefly worked in a department of the bureau as an entry level employee. It was over two decades ago, when China’s statistic system was in its very early stage and its national survey system was far behind that of the Western countries. But it desired for change and was determined to make a difference. As it strived to bring the system up to the international standards, it tapped into the talent pool by hiring a wave of college graduates.


I was one of the college graduates that hired to join its workforce. As we worked with international agencies to establish a quality national survey system, we were exposed to a world of learning opportunities -- from English to statistics to computer software packages.  Competitions among colleagues were intense but friendships were solid and strong. Exciting and rewarding, it was one of the most satisfying work experiences in my career journey.


But decades of life in Canada have weakened the relationship with my former colleagues, and the bureau has gradually become my distant past. Over the years, China has advanced rapidly and experienced drastic changes so has the bureau and my colleagues. As China enjoyed three decades of rapid GDP growth, the bureau has grown into a state giant and become the national authority for economic growth and planning.


The bureau has provided its employees with great opportunities for training and career growth. Many of my former colleagues have gained a PhD from top international schools, and churned out a slew of research papers on how to further improve the statistics system. A few have been prompted to incredibly important positions within the bureau and become academic celebrities. Their names have frequently made to the national newspapers and TV programs.


Frankly speaking, their success often makes me embarrassed and left me gripped by regrets.  Had I not left China, I would have been one of them – I thought, basking in the glory of score of achievements and acclaims, and enjoying the power as a national authority figure. But as the news about the fallout of its top brass gained international spotlights, and as the GDP growth numbers the bureau has released spark widespread skepticism, I have a second thought about my regrets, because behind that glories and power, there might be tormented souls gripped by stress, guilt and different types of regrets.

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Bob Mok的头像
Bobber on 星期三, 二月 3, 2016 - 14:26
This only means that you, Nancy, is a person of integrity. The truth has been imprisoned in the conscience of many in China and torment them daily. Some day, these dams will break. Indeed, many has taken their own lives already for a release.