From the LA Times:
Economic progress has been a top priority for Beijing. But it has been more like a religion in many regions, whose officials have gained recognition and won promotions based on achieving top GDP growth rates. The upshot is that for years, many provinces, counties and cities have submitted fraudulently inflated statistics.
…This charade was tolerated in the past. But more recently, it has become an embarrassment to the central government as foreign investors and analysts, among others, have come to question the credibility of China’s statistics. In the annual legislative session that opened last week, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao openly criticized the “blind competition” among local governments to post high GDP growth rates.