New data from the World Bank suggests China could surpass the U.S. as the world's biggest economy as early as this year, five years ahead of the previous economic forecasts that suggested China's economy would overtake the U.S. by 2019.
China's GDP was nearly 87 percent of the United States in 2011 based on so-called purchasing power parity (PPP) - a measure of what money can actually buy in different economies – according to a World Bank report. In a previous report China's economy was less than half the size of the US, accounting for only 43 percent of America's total based on volatile exchange rates.
The new report also transformed India from the 10th largest economy to the third. The PPP measurement seems to have changed the Global economic landscape.
But the facts may not be as rosy as the report. Another report from the World Bank indicated that the GDP of the United States was about 16.8 trillion in 2013, ranking first, while China's GDP was only 9.18 trillion, ranking second. China's per capita GDP ranks only 99th in the world.
"Catching up with the United States" was once the goal of the Chinese people. This meant not only the pursuit of economic strength, but also a strong demand for self-esteem and self-confidence. The Chinese needed to prove to themselves that China was no longer poor and weak. After creating a sustained economic growth and providing for the basic material needs of the population, the Chinese people have a better understanding of "catching up". One fact that is often mentioned is that during the Qing Dynasty, China's GDP led the world. But what lay behind this so called "No.1" spot was a backward, isolated, ignorant and humiliated society.
GDP brings crisis as well as glory. When problems such as the gap between rich and poor, environmental pollution, and corruption come along with the increase in GDP, people begin to reflect on the defects of economic growth and the shortcomings of the GDP accounting system by asking whether things like the quality of life, the fairness of income distribution, social welfare, the damage caused to the environment, innovation capacity, social progress, and individual happiness, can all be measured by GDP?
For most Chinese, a better quality of life with safe food, water and air, is more important than being the world's No 1 economy.
Edited and translated by Huang Jin, People's Daily Online
The article is edited and translated from“要好日子，不要虚幻的GDP全球第一 , source: China Youth Daily, Author: Feng Xuemei