As provincial-level legislative meetings are about to start this week, economic development targets could receive more attention than ever given that the central government has prioritized high-quality development rather than high-speed expansion.
How provincial governments adapt to the shift in development philosophy and improve the quality of economic development is a big question to be answered at the upcoming meetings.
The actions and measures taken by provincial governments, together with the proposals made by legislators, not only reflect upon the efficiency of China's economic governance but also influence the commitment of the central government.
Although the Chinese economy exceeded the 6.7-percent growth target to expand 6.9 percent year-on-year in 2017, marking the first acceleration in seven years, data inflation at lower levels has been reported.
Last week, Binhai New Area, a major economic development zone in Tianjin Municipality, and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region separately admitted double counting or data falsification.
Irregular government debt worth of over 6.4 billion yuan (about 967 million U.S. dollars) has been discovered in five local governments in Jiangxi, Shaanxi, Gansu, Hunan and Hainan provinces, according to an audit undertaken in the third quarter by the National Audit Office (NAO).
The audit findings also showed that 10 cities and counties in Yunnan, Hunan and Jilin provinces as well as Chongqing Municipality had inflated their fiscal revenues by a total of 1.5 billion yuan.
In response to local GDP data inflation, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has confirmed that the national economic figures were not affected by the inaccurate figures in some regions, companies and institutions as the calculation had been done separately.
But the intensive exposure of data cooking at local levels has sounded an alarm that central government supervision will be tightened, and that the previous regional contests around economic growth rates have come to an end.
Those who have falsified statistics will no longer get away with it as efforts are being made to unify GDP calculation at both provincial and national levels.
Moreover, the central government is considering the establishment of new mechanisms to push forward high-quality development, including necessary indicators, policies, standards, statistical and performance assessment systems.
Related innovations could be widely discussed at the upcoming provincial legislative meetings, as almost all significant reforms China has made have been put on trial on a small scale at local levels.