Small Chinese cities steer away from GDP

Jay Owen Beyond GDP

More than 70 Chinese smaller cities and counties have dropped gross domestic product as a performance metric for government officials, in an effort to shift the focus to environmental protection and reducing poverty.

The move, which follows a directive issued by top leaders last year, is among the first concrete signs of China switching its blind pursuit of economic growth at all costs towards measures that encourage better quality of life.

Analysts say that adherence to GDP as a performance metric – thus linking it to local officials’ promotion – has contributed to environmental degradation and urban sprawl as officials encouraged heavy industry and bulldozed agricultural land to build housing developments.