China picked a close adviser to Premier Li Keqiang as chief of the nation’s statistics agency, which has been criticized for years over publishing economic data at odds with other measures of growth.
Ning Jizhe, who has advised Li on economic policy, will lead the National Bureau of Statistics and be its top Communist Party official, Bloomberg News reported, citing a government statement issued on Friday.
He’ll also continue serving in his current role as vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, the top planning body.
Ning, 59, and Li, 60, are both natives of Anhui province, where they grew up in nearby hometowns less than a two-hour drive apart, before becoming economists.
Ning is the main author of speeches and reports that are presented by Li, who rose to became China’s No. 2 leader three years ago. The two often travel together on official trips.
The short, stout official with a noticeable regional accent made his way to the key post in Beijing after once serving as a rural production leader, as Li did.
Ning earned an economics Ph.D. from one of the country’s top schools, Renmin University, in the 1980s, when such intellectual accomplishments were still relatively rare.
Ning replaces Wang Baoan, who was removed in January over unspecified allegations of corruption after less than a year on the job.
He takes over an agency that’s dealt in recent years with challenges including leaks of its data.
The NBS in the past has defended its calculation of inflation and how that affects its real gross domestic product estimates.
“There’s reason to believe that the quality of data coming out of China will improve over time,” according to a report last month by the investment management division of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which cited China’s move toward meeting International Monetary Fund standards for disseminating data.
“In the meantime, however, we remain circumspect about the quality of its reporting.”
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