Nine Chinese provincial-level regions saw their GDP exceed one trillion yuan (US$141 billion) last year, with growth rates much higher than the national average, according to local government reports to the country's top statistics agency.
The nine regions, including eight provinces and Shanghai, accounted for 66 percent of China's GDP last year, according to Xinhua calculations based on figures on the website of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
China's GDP reached 24.67 trillion yuan in 2007, up 11.4 percent from the previous year. It was the fifth consecutive year that its economy recorded double-digit growth.
The northeastern Liaoning and southwestern Sichuan broke the one-trillion-yuan mark for the first time last year. Both provinces posted economic growth of more than 14 percent in their reports to the NBS.
South China's Guangdong remained the country's largest provincial economy. Its GDP rose 14.5 percent to 3.07 trillion yuan last year, about 12.4 percent of the national total. Guangdong was the only provincial economy above 1 trillion yuan in 2001.
The eastern coastal provinces of Shandong and Jiangsu followed, with their GDP figures both above 2.5 trillion yuan and growth rates above 14 percent. The eastern Zhejiang province and Shanghai, and northern Henan and Hebei are also in the top nine.
Beijing, the southern Fujian and central Hubei and Hunan economies all surpassed 900 billion yuan last year, with growth rates between 12.3 percent and 15.1 percent.
The four will break the one-trillion-yuan mark in 2008 if the current growth trend continues. Beijing has maintained double-digit growth for nine years in a row.
Inner Mongolia's economy reported the fastest economic growth last year, at 19 percent, followed by Jilin, at 16.1 percent.
Figures of provincial-level cities Tianjin and Chongqing are still unavailable on the NBS website. Neither of the two economies was above 450 billion yuan in 2006.
In August, a huge disparity between China's national and local economic figures for the first half of last year was reported.
China's provincial-level economies totaled 11.92 trillion yuan in the first six months of 2007, or 1.24 trillion yuan more than the figures provided by the central government.
Regional economic cooperation resulted in local governments repeating calculations by counting mutual investment and trade into their own GDP, said Zhao Yanyun, associate professor with the Renmin University of China.
Also to blame, however, is a system that has made the pursuit of economic growth the top criteria for provincial-level governments and officials, some critics argue.
Despite double-digit economic growth for five consecutive years, the central government planned to lower the rate to eight percent in 2007 and 2008, urging local officials to check excessive growth and pay more attention to the environment.
(Xinhua News Agency March 29, 2008)