China Passes Japan as Second-Largest Economy

But Economists Say Per Capita GDP Still Falls Below Japan

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BEIJING ( -- After three decades of astounding growth, China has overtaken Japan as the world's second-largest economy, according to gross domestic product figures released this month.

China's economy was valued at $1.33 trillion during the second quarter of 2010, slightly higher than Japan's GDP during the same period -- $1.28 trillion -- for the first time. Japan's economy has been stagnating since the 1990s, but even five years ago, China's annual GDP was just half the value of Japan's at $2.3 trillion.

The milestone is an important one for China, which is still adapting to its status as an economic and political superpower. China's economy has been growing at roughly 10% annually, or higher, for the past several years.

Despite years of double-digit growth, some China watchers caution that other figures -- less rosy ones -- should be taken just as seriously while wondering if China can maintain its past growth rate.

According to the International Monetary Fund, China's GDP per capita in 2009 was only $3,566, significantly lower than that of Japan ($39,573). China only ranked 99th worldwide in terms of per capita GDP.

GDP per capita is one of the most important indicators in identifying whether a country is a developed or a developing one. Per this criterion, China cannot be regarded as a middle-income country, let alone be placed on a par with Japan, whose economy has been the world's second-largest for over four decades.
Source: China Daily

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