Recently, we’ve been reporting some rather dispiriting news and figures about the Chinese economy, but perhaps brighter days are ahead as the man charged with overseeing all these numbers has just been placed under investigation for potential graft.
Yesterday, the Central Commission on Discipline Inspection announced that National Bureau of Statistics Director Wang Bao’an is being probed for “serious violations of party disciplline,” aka corruption, barely 9 months on the job.
Strangely enough, just a couple of hours before, Wang was at a press briefing in Beijing, defending China’s economic outlook. He assured reporters that ultimately the topsy-turvy stock market would have little impact and that international demand for the yuan was on the rise.
He also warned about the dangers of capital outflow after reports that $1 trillion left China during 2015, much more than the $455 billion the government had estimated at the start of the year.
This all led to the rather bizarre sequence of events in which state media aired clips of Wang’s comments, just before reading a brief statement announcing his detention.
Wang, 52, took up his job as bureau chief in April after working his way up for 17 years inside the finance ministry.
Observers typically view China’s statistics with a healthy dose of skepticism, apparently the same may apply to the people that make them.