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China media group to sponsor key PMI economic indicator

June 30, 2015

Chinese media group Caixin will take over sponsorship of a key economic indicator previously funded by British banking giant HSBC and which has frequently contradicted official figures, it said Tuesday.

The China Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), compiled by financial information services provider Markit, tracks activity in factories and workshops and is a closely watched barometer of the health of manufacturing in the world’s second-biggest economy.

The release will be renamed the Caixin China PMI and will be published from August, Caixin Media said in a statement.

The Chinese government also releases an official PMI on a monthly basis, which has often given more positive results than Markit’s. The government sample is larger, and analysts say it is more focused on big companies.

Caixin said the deal was part of an expansion into financial information.

“This is a very important step Caixin has taken in its quest for a strategic transformation,” said Hu Shuli, Caixin’s founder and editor-in-chief, in the statement.

Hu is widely regarded as an ally of Wang Qishan, a member of the ruling Communist Party’s all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee and head of the ongoing anti-corruption campaign.

Caixin is known for its investigative and scathing reporting, with some of its most recent influential coverage including how the family of Zhou Yongkang amassed immense wealth — reports that made headlines before official investigations into the country’s former security chief were formally announced.

Zhou was sentenced to life in jail earlier this month.

HSBC had held the rights for the past five years, with Hong Kong-based brokerage and investment group CLSA sponsoring it before that. The British banking group is cutting costs worldwide and has also dropped its funding for PMIs outside China.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.