The Internet homepage of Wikileaks (file photo – 01 Dec 20
The Internet homepage of Wikileaks (file photo – 01 Dec 20

A leaked U.S. diplomatic cable quotes a top Chinese official saying the country's economic statistics are "man-made" and therefore not reliable.

Former U.S. Ambassador Clark Randt wrote the memo in 2007 after a dinner with Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang, who at the time was the Communist Party chief in northeastern Liaoning province. It is among the tens of thousands of classified cables recently published by WikiLeaks.

The cable quotes Li saying he personally relied on such data as electricity consumption, rail cargo and bank lending to measure economic growth in his province. It says he explained with a smile that other statistics, especially gross domestic product numbers, are "for reference only."

Outside analysts have long suspected local officials in China of inflating economic statistics in order to meet targets and enhance their careers.

Li is widely expected to succeed Prime Minister Wen Jiabao when his term ends in 2013.