SCIO briefing on national economic performance in 2014

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Mr. Ma Jiantang, commissioner of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS)

Guo Weimin, director-general of the Press Bureau, State Council Information Office

January 20, 2015

Financial Times:

I have two questions for you. The first question is: could you confirm that unemployment rate you just mentioned from China's official statistics by the end of 2014 is 5.1 percent? May I ask if this is the correct figure? My second question is: the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank previously said that if the aggregate is calculated by purchasing power parity (PPP), China is already the biggest economy in the world, as its aggregate economic volume has surpassed that of the United States. Can you tell us what impact this will have? Thank you.

Ma Jiantang:

Thank you. The unemployment rate from the urban survey by the National Bureau of Statistics has not yet been officially released. Only the data from the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security about the urban registered unemployment rate has been released. The yearly unemployment rate from urban survey of the National Bureau of Statistics is at around 5.1 percent. Please ask Mr. Sheng Laiyun to double check the figure for you, that will be the right number.

Regarding the second question, the United Nations has entrusted the World Bank to carry out the new round of comparison work on purchasing power parity since 2011. China's National Bureau of Statistics also participated in this work. In the past year and in recent days, some scholars and members of the press believe that according to the results from the new round of PPP comparison in 2011, China's GDP has surpassed the U.S. if measured according to PPP. The National Bureau of Statistics doesn't agree with this saying. Because different countries use different currencies, the PPP comparison is very meaningful. What is PPP? Simply put, when you buy a basket of products and services, the money you spend on them is worth the same amount. You may spend either US$100, 600 RMB, or 10,000 Japanese yen on them. The PPP is the proportion of those three currrencies with equal values. But what is the difficult part? The hard part is the complex products in a basket are not always the same. In our basket, the food we consume may mainly be steamed bread and rice, but in Europe, it may be bread. The commodities in the basket cannot be exactly the same. So research on PPP itself is very valuable, the approach is still has nature in exploring and research domain. This is the first thing.

The second thing is that this is the result of this round of research on various countries' PPP. We think of it just as a research result, and we must be careful about applying it.

Third, for various reasons, we think this round of PPP research may underestimate China's price level, and overestimate China's total GDP, so we don't recognize this data. We have recognized that even though China has a population of 1.3 billion, and Chinese people are working hard and are being innovative in building a stronger country under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, and our GDP total volume is still expanding, per-capita GDP is still very low. China's gross domestic product per capita still sits at around the 90th position in the world chart, and we are still a developing country. According to the relevant standards from the World Bank, I'm afraid that we still have 200 million people living in poverty. We know about China's national condition very well. On the one hand, we see that our country is continuing to develop and the total volume is increasing, but on the other hand, we also see that per-capita GDP is comparatively low. And there are lots of difficulties and problems. We still need to do more things for ourselves, and are completely devoted to developing scientifically and, with undivided attention, trying hard to ensure that development is inclusive. This is the most important. Thank you.

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