A central government spokesman said he gave "incorrect" and "groundless" investment data sourced from the internet at a briefing on Wednesday, underscoring concern over the credibility of official numbers.
Zheng Yuesheng, a spokesman and head of the statistics department at the General Administration of Customs, said in a statement on Thursday that he "expresses deep apologies" for citing unconfirmed investment data from online sources he did not identify.
He was referring to remarks he made at a customs administration press conference where he also acknowledged concerns that the country's export data may be overstated.
During the briefing, held to discuss the trade figures for last month and the first quarter, Zheng said the National Development and Reform Commission, the mainland's top economic planning agency, had approved about seven trillion yuan (HK$8.77 trillion) of investment projects in last year's fourth quarter, including new roads, railroads and airports.
He gave the figure when discussing the improvement in first-quarter trade to illustrate the recovery in economic growth.
"The information was sourced from relevant reports on the internet, which were groundless and must be corrected," Zheng said in a seven-line statement on the agency's website.
Exports rose less than forecast last month for the first time in four months, while shipments to Hong Kong jumped 92.9 per cent, the most in 18 years.
Zheng acknowledged that the practice of false trade declarations exists and said the agency was investigating the issue.
At the same time, he stood by the customs administration's data and said differences between the mainland's reported exports to Hong Kong and the city's data for imports from the mainland stemmed from different statistical methods.