Yet, with its focus on credit and heavy industry, the index has been discredited in recent years. The index is now "quite useless" according to Arthur Kroeber, founding partner and head of research at Gavekal Dragonomics.
"It was a very crude rule of thumb...It was never particularly applicable to provinces such as Guangdong, which have always relied more on export manufacturing and services. And it has been deeply misleading about the economy as a whole for the past three years," he told CNBC.
Former devotees of the index are trying various ways of re-formulating it.
Michael Parker, Asia-Pacific analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, has constructed his own equivalent, focused on the growing power of the Chinese consumer and attempts to move China towards a more services-based economy. He uses elements like cinema box office receipts and 4G usage to work out what is going on in China's real economy.
"The key here is that, while services account for around half of the economy, they make up around two-thirds of growth," he told CNBC.
By this measure, the Chinese economy is performing better than the results suggested by the Li Keqiang index.
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Parker also thinks recent Chinese moves to downsize the army suggests that the government is optimistic about unemployment figures.
"I hope that they have better information than I do – we can only take their word for it," Parker said.