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China becomes world's third largest economy

Guardian Economics 14th January 2009

China overtook Germany to become the world's third largest economy yesterday after revising its figures for output growth. The Chinese economy has grown tenfold in three decades and grew 13% rather than 12% in 2007, Beijing said, putting it behind only the United States and Japan in terms of gross domestic product.

The revision raised the Chinese gross domestic product to 25.7 trillion yuan, the national statistics bureau said, or $3.5tn at 2007 exchange rates. That would be ahead of Germany's 2007 GDP of €2.4tn, or $3.3tn.

The fact that China has 1.3 billion people, though, means that GDP per head – a typical measure of individual wealth – remains well behind leading economies. Germany's 85 million people were far ahead of China in this category in 2007 at €28,200 euros per head ($38,800).

China's per-person figure was 19,800 yuan ($2,800) in 2007, although many Chinese survive on a lot less than that. The Chinese government says 100 countries in the world enjoy a higher income per head than it does.

China expects to keep on growing in spite of the current economic turmoil. But economists have slashed 2009 growth forecasts to as low as 6%. That would be the highest for any major economy but is worrying for the country's leaders, who are concerned about public anger over recent job losses.

Nevertheless, economists think it will take only three to four years for China, which recently overtook Britain, to surpass Japan ($4.4tn GDP) to become the world's number two economy.

The United States is the world's biggest economy, at $13.8tn in 2007.

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