The National Department of Statistics recently published a report on economic and social developments in 2009. Among the statistics found in the report are the past year’s housing pricing changes. In a year when people were literally lighting themselves on fire over housing issues and many complained of skyrocketing housing prices, the official verdict is in:
The data shows in large and middle-sized cities housing market prices went up by 1.5%. Newly built dwellings went up 1.3%, the prices of secondhand dwellings went up 2.4%, and the prices for renting/leased housing went down by 0.6%.
But that 1.5% figure hasn’t exactly been well received. From this article:
The Statistics Department’s 1.5% yearly increase is obviously lower than what many people have experienced in reality. Yesterday, as soon as the statistics were published, there was immediately hot debate on the internet. One netizen wrote, “Even in a small town, prices going up by over 30% was common last year, and in cities it was even more. A 1.5% increase, can you believe it? Obviously they put the decimal point in the wrong place.”
Others have called into question the usefulness of national statistics and called on the government to release more specific local statistics. Said Beijing realtor Yang Shaofeng:
Because of China’s regional differences, the housing prices in cities in different regions could be relatively disparate. Even in the same city, in central and suburban districts there are high and low housing prices. Because of this, the experiences of people from different regions toward the increase in housing prices is naturally different.
Comments on both original articles seem to be closed — clicking “leave a comment” on the Xinhua stories currently results in an error message — and there seems to be a mysterious dearth of comments on reposts of the news on other sites, too. For example this Mop repost has only one comment (“It’s simply nonsense, perhaps the Statistics Department are all blind?”) and this repost on Tianya is getting responses, but apparently slowly enough for someone to comment: “Why is nobody responding?”
What comments are there are pretty harsh. “Those in the public sector are stupid c**ts,” wrote one. Another wrote, “Actually, we common people won’t blame those in the Statistics Department for eating, drinking, and having fun [on the public dime], just don’t come out with messy altered statistics like this, OK?”
The statistic certainly does look questionable, especially in light of January’s apparent 9.5% spike. A botched decimal point? Intentionally fudged numbers? National data thrown off by massive regional disparities? You can be the judge of the cause, but whatever the reason, Chinese netizens certainly aren’t buying.