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Party-state of China suspends reporting legitimacy-challenging youth joblessness data

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(TibetanReview.net, Aug15’23) – The Party-state of China very implicitly denies that citizens are entitled to civil and political rights. Rather, it stakes its legitimacy on guaranteeing the socio-economic well-being of its subject-citizens. And so, the country’s continuously worsening youth joblessness is too embarrassing for its leadership to keep reporting on, which is why it has suspended the release of monthly data on joblessness among young people.

The decision came after the figure hit consecutive record highs in recent months amid a broader economic slump, reported edition.cnn.com Aug 15.

The news, which drew immediate backlash and ridicule on social media, was announced by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Aug 15, when it released its regular batch of monthly economic indicators. Previously, the NBS unveiled urban unemployment rates for 16- to 24-year olds each month, the report said.

Fu Linghui, a spokesman for the NBS, has said the decision was taken because the current statistics “need to be improved.”

He has said the NBS will now conduct “in-depth research” to improve its methodology, adding that the data will be released again once the process is completed. He did not give a time frame.

The report noted that suspension came after China’s youth unemployment rate hit consecutive record highs in recent months. From April to June, the jobless rate for 16- to 24-year-olds reached 20.4%, 20.8% and 21.3% respectively.

The actual figures could be even higher since China is known to underreport the bad news.

The announcement was stated to have quickly become a trending topic online.

A hashtag about the news was stated to have garnered 100 million views “What they really meant to say is, the current data is too ugly, let’s not look at it for now,” a comment with more than 9,000 upvotes on microblogging site Weibo, was reported to have said.

A record 11.6 million college graduates were seeking jobs this year. They face bleak prospects as the Chinese economy lost momentum after the second quarter, when a post-pandemic rally faded, the report said.

The Aug 15 data was also stated to indicate another month of tepid growth in the world’s second largest economy. Consumer spending, factory production and investment in fixed assets all slowed further in July from a year ago, the report said, citing the NBS.

Also, retail sales expanded 2.5% last month from a year ago, slowing from the 3.1% increase recorded in June. It was the weakest growth in consumption since December, when China scrapped its pandemic restrictions, the report noted.

Industrial production also came in below expectations. It was up 3.7% in July from a year earlier, compared to growth of 4.4% in June. Fixed-asset investment rose 3.4% in July, compared to the 3.8% growth recorded in June. The economy is grappling with weak export demand from global markets and an ongoing property crisis, the report added.

On Aug 13, China’s cabinet issued 24 guidelines to attract foreign investment and address some of the thorniest issues for investors. But many have said it was not enough.

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