Guangzhou's Bureau of Statistics has rushed to clarify a report that said the city's gross domestic product per capita had reached US$10,000 last year, stressing the calculation was flawed.
Yesterday's clarification came a day after the influential China Central Television evening news highlighted the widely reported figure and announced the city had become the first on the mainland to reach the threshold - an indicator put forward by the World Bank for 'developed economy' status.
The original report divided Guangzhou's GDP, put at 623.6 billion yuan, by 7.02 million, the number of people permanently resident in the city, and concluded the GDP per capita was around US$11,000 last year. The 623.6 billion yuan was calculated by multiplying published GDP in 2005 by an estimated growth rate of 14.4 per cent.
But an official with the city's Bureau of Statistics said the calculation was flawed and the figure inaccurate, the Guangzhou-based Southern Daily reported.
'The GDP figure took inflation into consideration while the rate of increase did not; you can't simply multiply them to get a value,' the official said.
Qu Jian , a researcher at the Shenzhen Economic Development Academy, said: 'The denominator only included people with residency, which is much smaller than the actual size of the labour force that contributes to the economy. If calculated this way, Shenzhen and Shanghai should have already surpassed the US$10,000 benchmark.'
The bureau also clarified Guangzhou had 7.5 million permanent residents and 4.28 million migrants, much more than the figure mentioned in the report.
According to Peng Peng , a researcher at the Guangzhou Academy of Social Science, the figure is not only a 'psychological threshold, but also a political one'.
'China only recently recorded a per capita GDP of US$1,000 [in 2003],' he said. 'In 2005, no cities officially announced they had reached per capita GDP of US$5,000 - a benchmark of a 'developed society' set by late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping - because nobody wanted to become a standout target envied by other cities and feel extra pressure.
'The social situation has changed in the Hu Jintao era with its emphasis on social harmony and the more affluent cities are concerned that too much exposure of their wealth would cause a huge sense of loss in those less well-off.'