I can rearrange the stars in the sky because I have statistics.

Andrei Marks · August 5, 2009

China’s growth figures fail to add up

Here’s a Financial Times article about the recent release of the newest GDP figures by the PRC’s National Bureau of Statistics. All in all, there has been a lot of grumbling about provincial and local governments over-reporting earnings (not that that’s ever had horrific consequences before!) and whether or not the national statistics themselves can be trusted.

Even the state media has been reporting that Chinese citizens are frustrated about it, and in response the NBS has started a PR campaign:

<blockquote>“Statistical Feelings: We have walked together – Celebrating the 60th anniversary of the founding of New China,” to boost confidence among statisticians.

The campaign has already produced works such as: “I’m proud to be a brick in the statistical building of the republic.” In another poem, a contributor writes: “I can rearrange the stars in the sky because I have statistics.”

I was intrigued, to say the least, so I’ve taken some time out of patent bar studying to exercise my poor artistic translation skills.

Here’s a poem called “Numbers” by Yu Bo (余波) of the Fujian Statistics Bureau.

The Original:

清贫 无辜
为人民 报表路
真实可信 事才不误
求来源清楚 向假数说不
举国事业大进 各族人民有福
甲子春秋统计吟 中华民族根基固

My translation, which is forced to miss out on some cultural references, sorry:

Poor but honest , and Innocent
For the people , The road of statistical forms
Is genuine and believable , Handling all without mistake
Seeking only the clearest springs , Never speaking to false sums*
Lifting the nation's undertakings far overhead , bringing fortune to every ethnicity
With statistics humming through all the years so long , the foundation of the Chinese people will be ever strong.

*假数 can also mean mantissa, a part of a logarithm (see Wikipedia), which might have been what the guy was going for, but I don’t appreciate the concept’s mathematical significance enough to use it comfortably.

And because it’s always fun, Google Translator’s enigmatic translation:

Poor innocent
Statements of the road for the people
True not only wrong thing
Clearly seeking to leave the number of sources say
The whole nation the cause of people of all ethnic groups Blessed Dajin
Spring and Autumn Annals and Statistics of the Chinese nation Jiazi Yin solid foundation

I’ll save the rest for another time, it looks like there are even better ones. But they’re all long as hell, and even this one took way too much time. Some of them look impressive, one statistician-cum-poet even did his in classical form, with 对联 (antithetical couplets) and everything.

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