Steel wheels keep on turning... Photo: Reuters

If you don’t think fabricated data is a problem in China, just ask Liaoning Province’s provincial governor Chen Qiufa. The senior official admitted in January that the province inflated fiscal revenues in the province by at least 20% over a period of four years. But the problem, which by official accounts so far is limited to Liaoning, may be widespread throughout other coal, oil and steel dependent provinces. The Financial Times crunched the numbers and found that provinces significantly more exposed to commodities than Liaoning reported no similar corresponding economic contraction. The government has planned to phase in a new GDP calculation system centrally administered by China’s National Bureau of Statistics, but that won’t be finished until 2020, if all goes according to plan. Until then, we can take the numbers with a large helping of salt.