BEIJING — China has eclipsed Japan as the world’s second-biggest economy after three decades of blistering growth, a pace that puts it on track to surpass the United States within 10 years.

Japan is still far richer per person after confirming Monday that economic output fell behind its giant neighbor for the three months ending June 30. However, the news is more proof of China’s arrival as a force that is altering the global balance of commercial, political and military power.

Analysts are already looking ahead to when China might match the United States in total output – which the World Bank and others say could be no more than a decade away.

“This means the world will pay more attention to China, especially when most Western countries are mired in the bog of debt problems,” said economist Lu Zhengwei at Industrial Bank in Shanghai.

Unseating Japan – after earlier passing Germany, France and Britain – caps three decades of breakneck growth that has cemented a dramatic change in China’s place in the world.

State-owned Chinese companies have emerged as major resource investors, pouring billions of dollars into mines and oil fields from Latin America to Iraq. Chinese pressure helped to win a bigger voice for developing economies in the World Bank and other global institutions.

China’s rise has allowed hundreds of millions of people to work their way out of poverty and has sent a flood of students and tourists to the West. Its consumers are so avidly courted that companies from Detroit automakers to French handbag producers now design goods to suit them.

Still, China’s rise has produced glaring contradictions. The wealth gap between the elite who profited most from three decades of reform and the poor majority is so extreme that China has dozens of billionaires, while average income for the rest of its 1.3 billion people is among the world’s lowest.

contrast, Japan’s people still are among the world’s richest, with a per capita income of $37,800 last year, compared with China’s $3,600. Americans are also among the richest at $42,240.

According to Monday’s report, Japan’s nominal gross domestic product was $1.28 trillion in the April-to-June quarter compared with $1.33 trillion for China. The figures are converted into dollars based on an average exchange rate for the quarter.

World stock markets mostly fell on the news that Japan’s economy grew just 0.1 percent in the second quarter, far short of expectations and well below the 1.2 percent growth in the first quarter.

Stimulus-driven Chinese growth that hit 11.9 percent in the first quarter this year before easing in the latest quarter helped propel the world out of recession. Chinese demand for raw materials and other imports buoyed economies from Australia to Africa.

China uses more than half the world’s iron ore and more than 40 percent of its steel, aluminum and coal. It passed the United States last year as the biggest auto market and Germany as the biggest exporter.

“We are at the point now where China is overtaking the U.S. to be the engine of growth in consumption,” said researcher Amar Gill of the brokerage CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets.

China could match the United States in total output as early as 2020, said a June World Bank forecast. America’s gross domestic product was $14.26 trillion last year.

A more serious concern for communist leaders is China’s income per person, which the World Bank said ranked 124th in the world last year. Japan ranked 32nd and the United States ranked 17th.

As a result, becoming the second-largest economy “isn’t something to add to national pride,” said Zhang Bin, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a government think tank.

“I care more about GDP per capita,” Zhang said. “People in small countries like Switzerland lead a much wealthier life.”


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