Beijing China has eclipsed Japan as the world’s second-biggest economy after three decades of blistering growth that put overtaking the U.S. in reach within 10 years.
Japan is still far richer per person after confirming Monday that economic output fell behind its giant neighbor for the three months ending June 30. However, the news is more proof of China’s arrival as a force that is altering the global balance of commercial, political and military power.
Analysts are already looking ahead to when China might match the United States in total output — which the World Bank and others say could be no more than a decade away.
Unseating Japan — after earlier passing Germany, France and Britain — caps three decades of breakneck growth that has cemented a dramatic change in China’s place in the world over just the past five years.
State-owned Chinese companies have emerged as major resource investors, pouring billions of dollars into mines and oil fields from Latin America to Iraq. Chinese pressure helped to win a bigger voice for developing economies in the World Bank and other global institutions.
On a human level, China’s rise has allowed hundreds of millions of people to work their way out of poverty and sent a flood of students and tourists to the West.