Bloomberg: China is poised to overtake the U.S. as the world’s biggest economy earlier than expected, possibly as soon as this year, using calculations that take purchasing power into account.Perhaps more interesting:
China’s economy was 87 percent of the size of the U.S. in 2011, based on so-called purchasing power parity, the International Comparison Program said in a statement yesterday in Washington. The program, which involves organizations including the World Bank and United Nations, had put the figure at 43 percent in 2005.
The latest tally adds to the debate on how the world’s top two economic powers are progressing. Projecting growth rates from 2011 onwards suggests China’s size when measured in PPP may surpass the U.S. in 2014, which would be years earlier than many economists had previously estimated, according to Arvind Subramanian of the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
“There’s a symbolic element to this, to China overtaking the U.S., and that seems to be happening,” said Subramanian, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Peterson Institute. The latest data “plays to the idea that China is very big and getting bigger. It’s not to be underestimated.” ...
The Needham QuestionIf current trends continue the Needham Question might be replaced by the more mundane Why did China have a bad 200 years starting in ~ 1800 AD? (See China 1793.)
What do these things have in common? Fireworks, wood-block printing, canal lock-gates, kites, the wheelbarrow, chain suspension bridges and the magnetic compass. The answer is that they were all invented in China, a country that, right through the Middle Ages, maintained a cultural and technological sophistication that made foreign dignitaries flock to its imperial courts for trade and favour. But then, around 1700, the flow of ingenuity began to dry up and even reverse as Europe bore the fruits of the scientific revolution back across the globe.
Why did Modern Science develop in Europe when China seemed so much better placed to achieve it? This is called the Needham Question, after Joseph Needham, the 20th century British Sinologist who did more, perhaps, than anyone else to try and explain it.
But did Joseph Needham give a satisfactory answer to the question that bears his name? Why did China’s early technological brilliance not lead to the development of modern science and how did momentous inventions like gunpowder and printing enter Chinese society with barely a ripple and yet revolutionise the warring states of Europe?
With Chris Cullen, Director of the Needham Research Institute in Cambridge; Tim Barrett, Professor of East Asian History at SOAS; Frances Wood, Head of Chinese Collections at the British Library.