Chinese City Reliant on US Trade Fires Senior Official for Faking Export Data

November 12, 2018 Updated: November 12, 2018

BEIJING—A senior official at the local commerce department of one of China’s most U.S.-trade dependent cities was fired for inflating export figures, as part of a wider government crackdown on falsification of economic data that began last year.

Liu Yuhong abused his power by falsifying export data when he was the vice director of Zhongshan’s commerce department, according to a statement on the website of the city’s anti-graft watchdog. The statement didn’t specify the time period in which the data was falsified.

Liu, who served as vice head of the department between August 2014 and December 2017, was moved to another role within the department in December last year, according to the Nov. 9 statement.

Exports from Zhongshan, one of the most trade-reliant cities in China’s export powerhouse Guangdong Province, plunged almost 20 percent for the first three quarters this year. That compared with a 0.4 percent gain for the whole of Guangdong.

The United States has levied additional duties of 10 percent to 25 percent on $250 billion of Chinese goods this year as punishment for what it calls the country’s unfair trade practices; the 10 percent tariffs are set to rise to 25 percent in January.

More than 70 percent of the exports from Zhongshan are machinery that’s on the U.S. tariff list.

On the national level, exports have been particularly robust as firms keep rushing out shipments to beat the U.S. tariffs that are due to kick in at the start of the new year. But analysts warn shipments could fall sharply early next year if the U.S. follows through on higher duties.

Factory surveys have shown foreign orders for Chinese goods have been shrinking for several months in a row. The value of export orders to the United States signed at China’s largest trade fair that ended last week dropped 30.3 percent on the year.

By Stella Qiu & Ryan Woo