This was inevitable, but when it came this week it was still a little bit of a shock: China surpassed Germany to become the world’s third-largest economy.
Revised figures show China with a 2007 gross domestic product of $3.5 trillion compared with Germany’s $3.3 trillion.
Economists say it is only three or four years away from overtaking Japan, with a GDP of $4.4 trillion, for second place.
It is still decades from catching up with the United States, by far the world’s largest economy at $13.8 trillion.
China’s rulers have thus far been able to balance increasing economic freedom with tight political and social control over the population. It may not last. Already, a once-hopelessly impoverished population is using its rise in wealth to speak out against official corruption and incompetence.