China has squeaked past Britain by the tiniest of margins to become the
world's fourth-largest economy, according to the World Bank's latest
The World Bank said that by its official measure China produced US$2.263825
trillion in output in 2005, just US$94 million, or 0.004 per cent, more than
China comfortably overtook Britain last year based on each country's gross
domestic product converted into US dollars at current exchange rates.
But the World Bank's widely watched ranking measures gross national income
converted into dollars using the "Atlas" method of currency conversion, which
smoothes out exchange rate fluctuations by using a three-year average.
Gross national income comprises gross domestic product plus net inflows of
income such as rents, profits and salaries from abroad.
The United States, Japan and Germany remain the world's first-, second- and
third-largest economies respectively, according to the bank, which posted its
2005 rankings on its website over the weekend.
"In terms of quality, there is still a whopping gap between China's economy
and Britain's and those of developed countries as a whole," said Han Meng, an
economist with the Institute of Economics at the Chinese Academy of Social
"We should remain cool-headed and be aware that there is tremendous room for
China to improve in its economic growth model and structure," he said.
He noted that in areas such as technological prowess, management expertise,
industrialization and urbanization, China is still playing catch up with other
Li Yongsen, an economist with the Renmin University of China, said that in
per capita term, China is still years away from Britain and other developed
"We should pay more attention to economic growth quality,
making sure that this breakneck growth does not come at the expense of energy
and the environment," he said.