by Xinhua writers Wu Liming, Ye Shuhong
BEIJING, Aug. 3 (Xinhua) -- A deputy governor of China's central bank recently unveiled a major economic milestone in a rather casual manner.
"China is actually now already the world's second-largest economy," Yi Gang, who is also head of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE), said in an interview posted on the SAFE website last Friday.
The milestone was an expected accomplishment, as it has been a consensus shared among economists, politicians and the media that China would sooner or later become the world's second largest economy. The only question was when the milestone would occur.
Following Yi's remark, some media lauded China's leaping forward and to a certain extent, exaggerated its significance.
Of course, becoming No. 2 in the world is a milestone earned after decades of hard work by the Chinese people.
Thanks to the reform and opening-up policy, China has experienced uninterrupted economic ascent over the past three decades, overtaking Britain and France in 2005, Germany in 2007, and now Japan.
However, it is also important to ask ourselves what it really implies to become the "world's No. 2 economy," and then stay cool.
After all, China's per-capita gross domestic product (GDP) is still far behind that of many other countries including, of course, Japan.
According to the World Bank, China's per capita GDP was a bit more than 3,600 U.S. dollars in 2009, ranking 124th worldwide, whereas Japan's per-capita GDP amounted to over 39,000 dollars.
Indeed, China's current per capita GDP is equal to only that of Japan in 1973, which was at around 3,800 U.S. dollars.
Analysts forecast it would be not until 2050 that China's per capita GDP reaches the 2009 level of the per capita GDP of developed countries.
In short, China has a long way to go.
"China is still a developing country, and we should be wise enough to know ourselves," Yi has said.