BEIJING (Reuters) - China has sentenced two officials to jail terms of up to six years for leaking economic data, the Supreme People's Procuratoriate said in a statement on Monday, citing the need to protect the government's credibility.
Economic data is usually market-sensitive information and the figures are routinely leaked before their official release, sometimes circulating among investors days before they are announced by the government.
"Since May last year, China's macro-economic data have been leaked on a number of occasions, arousing close attention from the central leadership," according to the statement, released to reporters before a media conference.
To serve as a deterrent, China sentenced Sun Zhen, a senior secretary at the National Bureau of Statistics, to five years in jail for leaking 27 statistical figures to the securities industry, the statement said.
It added that Wu Chaoming, a researcher at the People's Bank of China, was sentenced to six years in jail for leaking 25 items to 15 employees of the securities industry.
Neither sought to appeal the sentences, it said.
The National Bureau of Statistics has recently sought to release its regular data as early as possible to reduce the opportunities for such leaks.
For example, it has narrowed the time between when it collects the data for sensitive economic indicators such as consumer and producer prices and when it makes the data public.
"The leaking of macro data harms economic operation, prevents fair market competition, and affects government credibility," the statement said.
"We will continue to strike hard on such cases, efficiently investigate all cases involving the leaking of secrets whenever they are uncovered," it added.
(Reporting by Beijing newsroom; Editing by Ken Wills)