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April 22, 2019

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Economic census aims to guarantee data accuracy

Statistician Wang Ting has spent nearly four months visiting businesses and collecting data on their operation, so is well placed to sense the changes in China’s economy.

Carrying a hand-held computer device, the 35-year-old from the statistics department of Nanjing in eastern Jiangsu Province is conducting China’s fourth economic census.

In the four months from January, over 2 million census workers across the country, like Wang, need to survey 30 million entities and industrial units, as well as about 60 million self-employed entrepreneurs.

In the “super economic check-up,” census workers said they faced a tougher-than-ever task in collecting data on enterprise structure, staff wages, financial status, production capacity, energy consumption, and research and development activities.

Ning Jizhe, head of National Bureau of Statistics, has stressed the need to secure high-quality data. Calling data quality “the lifeline” of the economic census, he said the top priority was to guarantee data accuracy.

As the Chinese economy is undergoing transformation and upgrade, Zhuang Jian, senior economist with Asian Development Bank, said that accurate and authentic census data was significant for future studies.

To ensure accuracy and efficiency, fresh tools are being used. Wang said respondents could access the NBS terminal management application and data-checking system through a hand-held computer device.

Previously, census workers had to take down the data they collected first and input to computers later.

“Now we input the information collected in the presence of the respondents and ask for a confirmation signature,” Wang said. “Both efficiency and quality of our work have improved.”

Credit system

Those who refuse to provide the required information or try to manipulate the data will be discredited in the country’s credit system, the NBS said.

Apart from equipping census workers with new tools, the NBS has tried to make the census more accessible to the public by opening an account on popular video-sharing app Tik Tok to share amusing short clips.

Compared to previous economic surveys, the current census pays more attention to the new economy, which tends to be labor- or technology-intensive but asset-light, sustainable, shows rapid growth and is in strategic areas encouraged by the government.

New survey items such as R&D, production capacity, energy consumption and e-commerce sales have been factored in.

“By adding these new items, the census can draw a clearer picture of the new economy while tracking new growth engines,” Zhuang said.

During an on-site survey, Wang who participated in the previous economic census found more small- and medium-sized enterprises involved this time, and their business more diversified.

Census workers also feel stronger public involvement.

“Companies can better understand industry dynamics and market trends and optimize business decision-making through the data, and individuals can use relevant data as a reference to make smart choices in personal career development and investment,” Wang Nan, CEO of ZBJ, an emerging talent-sharing website in China noted.

In the bigger picture, the census will help provide stronger statistical support for the government to conduct macroeconomic control and roll out long-term plans, Zhuang said.

For Ning, the ongoing census will help the country to better pursue high-quality development through reform. It will allow the government to better evaluate economic performances, monitor and track the progress.


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