It will take years before the populous nation industrializes its vast rural areas and efficiently makes use of energy resources
China's gross domestic product (GDP) touched $4,909 billion last year, according to the country's National Bureau of Statistics. Yet, it is still $160 billion less than Japan's $5,073 billion, as indicated by data from Tokyo.
Given its marvelous economic growth in the past few years, the $160 billion gap will soon be plugged by the world's third largest economy. China is expected to overtake Japan as the world's second largest economy this year if it manages to carry forward its past momentum.
Since the start of the 21st century, China's economic might has successively surpassed that of several developed nations such as Canada, Italy, France, Britain and Germany.
The country's growing economic clout on the world stage, along with the sterling economic growth shown by some of its big cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and other eastern coastal regions, has raised a question: Is China a developing or developed nation?
Any trivial matter multiplied by 1.3 billion will turn into a big problem, and any astronomical figure divided by 1.3 billion will be reduced to a tiny number, as Premier Wen Jiabao put it during a press conference at the conclusion of this year's National People's Congress session.
As a country with a population of 1.37 billion, there are few reasons to take pride in the fact that our country's economic bulk has surpassed those countries with populations or land areas much smaller than ours.
Canada has only 2.5 percent of China's population. The proportion is 4.4 percent, 4.6 percent, 4.6 percent, 6.2 percent and 9.5 percent respectively for Italy, France, Britain, Germany and Japan.
China's huge economic aggregate has not changed the fact that its per capita GDP still ranks very low globally. In 2008, the country's per capita GDP was $3,263, which ranked it 98th in the world.
That figure was a little more than one-third of the world's average the same year, which was $9,054. The number was also much less than some other developing countries, such as Brazil and Mexico.
In 1990, the United Nations Development Program conceived the Human Development Index (HDI) as a way to measure the economic and social development of member states.