GROWTH

China becomes world's third-largest economy

China indicated it had overtaken recession-hit Germany to become the world's third-largest economy after its 2007 growth rate was revised upwards to 13%.

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AFP - China revised upwards its 2007 growth figures Wednesday, indicating the Asian giant overtook Germany as the world's third-largest economy, analysts said.

China's economy expanded by 13.0 percent in 2007, up from a previous calculation of 11.9 percent, the National Bureau of Statistics said.

The economy was worth 25.7 trillion yuan in 2007, the statistics bureau said, or about 3.5 trillion dollars based on the exchange rate at the end of that year.

"At market exchange rates, China in 2007 was the third largest behind the US and Japan," said Vivek Arora, senior resident representative with the IMF in Beijing, told Dow Jones Newswires.

"It indicates the speed of economic growth in the year was beyond what people previously imagined. The economy was overheated beyond what people estimated," said Ren Xianfang, a Beijing-based analyst with Global Insight.

"The figures here mean China has surpassed Germany," she said, citing World Bank estimates. "Germany's economy was 3.3 trillion dollars in 2007 while China's economy was much bigger than that."

China is now only behind the United States, whose economy was worth 13.8 trillion in 2007, and Japan, at 4.4 trillion, according to World Bank figures.

China became the fourth largest economy in 2005, when it grew 10.4 percent, speeding past France, Britain and Italy.

The revision put the 2007 economic growth second only to the 13.1 percent growth seen in 1994, Ren said.

But the revised figures could serve only to make the slowdown between 2007 and 2008 appear sharper, economists said.

"The change in GDP estimates for two years ago will not alter the economy's near-term outlook," said Sherman Chan, an economist with Moody's Economy.com.

"The only effect is perhaps negative, as a stronger 2007 would make the 2008 slowdown more upsetting," she wrote in a research note.

China is expected to release its full-year economic figures for 2008 next week.

The Chinese economy grew by nine percent in the third quarter, the lowest rate in over five years, and the World Bank has forecast 2008 growth of 7.5 percent, a level not seen since 1990.

"For 2009, a further slowdown is projected, as the global economy remains in a dismal state, hurting China's export-related businesses, which have been the bread winner for the country," Chan said.

The bureau said this was the final revision for 2007 economic numbers, after reporting in January last year that growth was 11.4 percent, then upgrading it to 11.9 percent in April.

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