Kezhou Xiao and Brantly Womack have a new article, entitled “Distortion and Credibility within China’s Internal Information System” at the Journal of Contemporary China. Here’s the abstract:
Behind the problems of credibility of public official information in China lie two patterns of internal information distortion, one restricting the downward flow of sensitive general information and the other filtering the upward flow of local information. Information gathered at the center is increasingly restricted as it is transmitted down the bureaucracy. Meanwhile, the ‘facts on the ground’ are sifted by local official interests at each level of upward transmittal. Awareness of these distortions has been increased by the Internet revolution, but the structures that encourage them remain in place. An empirical survey of different levels of local cadres in Guangdong Province indicates the different perspectives produced by different positions in the internal information system. Municipal level officials, who have more general information but less diverse local information, tend to be more positive about the quality and objectivity of statistics, while their staff members, further from central sources but closer to messy local realities, are more skeptical.
Officials surveyed acknowledge that data manipulation problems exist in China, which is comforting for those of us who have written about their existence.