BEIJING (Reuters) - China's National Bureau of Statistics is likely to set up its own think tank to help it better formulate policy and understand what is happening in the country's economy, its chief said in an interview published on Sunday.

Ning Jizhe told the Study Times that such a move would help better meet the demands of establishing a modern statistics system and analyze what is going on in China's "new normal" economy, an expression President Xi Jinping coined two years ago to refer to China's slowing growth.

"In accordance with these requirements, statistical services need to transform in the direction of independently and objectively reflecting, forecasting, warning and analyzing suggestions to deal with the situation," Ning said.

He did not give a time frame, but said some of the think tank's staff would be sent abroad to learn best international practice.

Other government departments dealing with economic policy already have think tanks or research centers attached to them.

The influential newspaper is published twice a week by the Central Party School, which trains rising officials.

Ning took up his job in February after his predecessor was sacked following a corruption investigation.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Christopher Cushing)