Beijing China’s economy grew to the world’s third-largest in 2007, new data showed Wednesday, another milestone in the country’s stunning ascent in the global pecking order that puts it behind only Japan and the United States.
China has grown tenfold in the past 30 years, and the revised data leapfrogged it ahead of Germany. But overtaking the United States is another matter.
“I think it will take only three to four years for China to overtake Japan as the second-largest economy in the world,” said Merrill Lynch economist Ting Lu. Catching up with the United States could take decades, he added.
The status is symbolic — China’s 1.3 billion people are, on average, among the world’s poorest. But it reflects the country’s explosive growth as it transformed from a long-isolated nation to the world’s factory.
The government revised its estimate of 2007 growth from an already high 11.9 percent to 13 percent, the fastest rate since 1994. The national statistics bureau did not explain the factors behind the revision.
The new estimate raised gross domestic product to 25.7 trillion yuan, or $3.5 trillion at 2007 exchange rates, the statistics bureau said. That would be ahead of Germany’s 2007 GDP of 2.4 trillion euros, or $3.3 trillion at an exchange rate produced by averaging rates on the 15th of each month during that year.
The revision comes as China’s export-driven economy struggles to reverse a slump caused by global turmoil and prevent already simmering social unrest over lost export-related jobs.