China Revises 2004 GDP Up 16.8%

China took another great leap forward Dec. 20 as it upgraded growth estimates by nearly 17% or US$ 284 billion for 2004, an unprecedented move that could rank it as the world's fourth-largest economy.

A new economic census found output in China's service sector had been under-reported by some $262 billion, largely due to the way the government compiled statistics, Li Deshui, commissioner of the National Bureau of Statistics said. "Preliminary estimation using results from the economic census indicates that China's GDP for the year 2004 was 15,987.8 billion yuan ($1.98 trillion) at current prices," Li said. This represents "an increase of 2,300 billion yuan ($284 billion) or 16.8% over the preliminary estimated figure using regular annual statistical data."

With the revision, China overtook Italy to rise from seventh to sixth in the global rankings after the U.S., Japan, Germany, Britain and France. Analysts said that by now it was very likely close to fourth place based on its real growth rate, as opposed to official data, and dollar exchange rates. Most analysts say China's economy has been growing much faster than officially stated figures of about 9.0%.

The NBS said the revised service sector data meant its contribution to GDP in 2004 rose from the 31.9% to 40.7%. A more balanced economy would normally register above 50%. The government and economists have both worried China is relying too much on government investment and heavy industry to drive growth.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2005

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