Beijing. China's Liaoning province has shaken the dubious badge of being the only province in the country officially in recession, after its economy grew 2.4 percent in the first quarter of 2017, according to the official Xinhua news agency on Thursday (20/04).
Liaoning, whose economy contracted 2.5 percent last year, had been hit hard by a prolonged downturn in heavy industry.
But economists say data there has been distorted by political meddling, with some saying the situation in the province is not as bad the numbers suggest.
The Liaoning government said in January that it had falsified reporting of fiscal data from 2011 to 2014, according to state media.
"After a year of repairing the political ecology and 'squeezing water' out of economic data, [Liaoning's] economy has returned to the path of positive growth," the Xinhua article said.
China's ailing "smokestack" industries, such as steel mills and smelters, have seen a sharp reversal of fortunes in recent months as a construction boom boosts demand and prices for materials from steel and copper to cement.
But Liaoning's economy is still likely the slowest-growing in the country, and faces many challenges from years of investment-fueled growth, with debt that is almost three times annual revenue.
Shanxi province had the second-lowest growth rate after Liaoning last year, but it still expanded 4.5 percent. Shanxi has not yet released data for that period.
China's economy grew a better-than-expected 6.9 percent in the first quarter.
The National Bureau of Statistics has over the last several months repeatedly stressed the importance of accurate data, with the head of the agency saying those caught falsifying economic data will face zero tolerance and be punished under the law.