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China says economic data on growth and energy misread

CHINESE officials at the National Bureau of Statistics said yesterday that purportedly contradictory economic growth and energy data were being misunderstood, and that the figures reflected a shift in the country's industrial structure.

The bureau made its comments in response to doubts expressed by an international organization. According to the Wall Street Journal, the International Energy Agency said that China's reported first-quarter 6.1 percent expansion in gross domestic product didn't tally with a 3.5 percent drop in oil and weak electricity demand.

"The report lacked evidence and some viewpoints were cited from private consulting organizations, which reflected a lack of seriousness," the bureau said on its Website.

The bureau said the report was incorrect to assume that oil and power demand could be directly compared to overall economic growth without taking into consideration other factors.

As to why industrial output grew and yet electricity consumption fell, the statistics bureau said it was a reflection of the change in industrial structure and a slowdown in production by energy-intensive sectors.

It said less energy-intensive sectors had contributed more to economic growth than traditional heavy industry.

First-quarter electricity usage fell 4 percent to 781 billion kilowatt-hours from a year earlier while industrial output grew 5.1 percent year on year.

The bureau said the output of tertiary industries, which are not big electricity users, rose 7.4 percent in the first quarter - 2.1 percentage points higher than the output of heavy and light industries.

The output of tertiary industries contributed 44.3 percent of GDP, up from 42.7 percent a year earlier. The output of heavy and light industries accounted for 44.1 percent, down from 46 percent.

In the first quarter, the output growth rate of the six most energy-intensive sectors (iron and steel, nonferrous metals, building materials, petrochemicals, coking and chemicals), fell 12.5 percentage points on average from a year earlier to 2.3 percent, it said.


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