Communist China's Economy, 1949-1962: Structural Changes and Crisis

By Cheng Chu-Yuan | Go to book overview

APPENDIX
A NOTE ON COMMUNIST CHINA'S STATISTICAL DATA

One crucial but confusing problem in the study of the Chinese economy is the questionable validity of official statistics. In a closed society, such as Communist China today, no independent investigation by non-government organizations is tolerated. Consequently, the analyst cannot employ the usual method of crosschecks. In fact, he must utilize official data even when recognizing that the regime has grossly inflated its statistics for propaganda purposes.

There are some analysts who have implicitly acknowledged the full validity of Communist figures by basing their conclusions entirely on the official data. These writers enjoy the dubious advantage of political benefits as well as simplicity in presentation [1]. But this sacrifice of accuracy is extremist -- even the Chinese Communists themselves, in August, 1959, as well as in other cases admitted the exaggeration of official statistics.

With the notable exception of a handful of sympathizers, students and experts alike have realized the general unreliability of official data [2]. In attempting to formulate some degree of reliability, no single criterion is or can be correct. The regime's policies toward statistical work vary from time to time, just as do the facilities and personnel among the various sectors.

For purposes of clarity, the evolution of Communist China's statistics may be divided into four distinct stages covering the period 1949-62. The data compiled in 1949-51 is, in the main, little more than guess work and represents an extreme methodological vagary. Any claim to validity must be discounted heavily. Statistics compiled in 1952-54 are more consistent, although still far from accurate. By contrast, the figures released in 1955-57 may be regarded as relatively reliable. Since the Big Leap Forward of 1958, the entire statistical system has become chaotic. Most of the official data published has no relation to reality and is little more than a numerical game for propaganda purposes. These general observations require more detailed accounts of the various stages.


The 1949-51 Period

When the Chinese Communists assumed power in 1949, no nationwide statistical network was established. The highest organ

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Communist China's Economy, 1949-1962: Structural Changes and Crisis
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Foreword iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • List of Tables ix
  • Other Books by the Same Author xi
  • Abbreviations xii
  • Chapter 1 Introduction 1
  • References 3
  • Chapter 2 Major Features of China's Pre-Communist Economic Structure 4
  • References 9
  • Chapter 3 Chinese Communist Theories and Policies for Economic Structural Transformation 11
  • References 19
  • Chapter 4 Agricultural Collectivizsation 22
  • References 56
  • Chapter 5 Transformation of the Private Sector into the State-Operated Sector 60
  • References 82
  • Chapter 6 Establishment of the Central Planning Machinery and State Monopoly 84
  • References 104
  • Chapter 7 Basic Changes in the Component of the National Product 106
  • Chapter 8 Famine and Crisis 128
  • References 153
  • Chapter 9 Significance and Prospects 157
  • References 172
  • Chapter 10 Conclusion 175
  • Appendix a Note on Communist China's Statistical Data 181
  • References 189
  • Appendix II Conversion Tables 191
  • Selected Bibliography 194
  • Index 208
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