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China's economy isn't growing anywhere near as fast as official figures suggest, perma-bear Marc Faber, told CNBC on Tuesday.
Speaking before the release of heavily anticipated Chinese growth figures for 2015, Faber, the publisher of The Gloom, Boom & Doom Report, put the country's growth at about 4 percent, far from the 7 percent Beijing was aiming for, or the 6.9 percent it achieved.
"An economy is very complex and you have some sectors of an economy expanding and some sectors contracting," Faber told CNBC's Squawk Box. But he added, "My sense is that at very best, the economy is growing at around 4 percent per annum but it could be lower."
Gross domestic product (GDP) growth on the mainland slowed to 6.9 percent in 2015, a 25-year low, figured released on Tuesday showed. Fourth-quarter GDP came in at 6.8 percent.
Both numbers were in line with expectations, but China's reported economic data routinely meets with skepticism.
"There are numerous indicators and some of them are actually reliable, if you look at say imports and exports, from Taiwan and South Korea into China. You get the sense that the economy is actually quite weak," Faber said.
Last week China said exports fell 1.4 percent in December from a year earlier, while imports slid 7.6 percent, both much less than economists had expected, but still marking a sixth straight on-year exports decline.
Additionally, Faber cited concerns about debt in China as support for a bearish position.
"We have this colossal debt bubble in China and in my opinion this will have to be deflated through either huge losses in the banking sector or losses in the bond market for investors," he said.
China's total outstanding external debt was at $1.53 trillion at the end of September, according to official data.
"In addition to that, we have essentially a stock market bubble, which now is being deflated," Faber said..
The Shanghai Composite has entered "bear within a bear" territory, falling more than 20 percent from its December high, as well as trading down more than 40 percent from its 52-week high set in June of last year. The benchmark index closed up 3 percent on Tuesday
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