The US economy retains top status, but Beijing's economic engine is shrewdly built – and set to propel China forward fast.
President Obama's recent State of the Union speech carried a blunt message: Continued US prosperity depends on figuring out how to stay ahead of other nations that are out to eat America's lunch.
It's a theme that Mr. Obama has continued to hammer over the past week, and he cites China as a prime challenger -- a nation that's now home to the world's fastest computer and largest private solar-research site.
When it comes to China, many Americans agree. Some 47 percent now see it as the world's leading economic power, according to a January poll by the Pew Research Center. Only 31 percent chose the United States.
So just how big an economic threat is China? Is this really a "Sputnik moment" for America, as the president said? The challenge to America is real, but it also shouldn't be exaggerated. The notion that China is already No. 1 is flatly wrong, most economists and Asia experts say.
Measured in dollar value of output, the US economy is still more than twice the size of China's. And because the US population is about one-quarter that of China, this means the typical person in China has a living standard far below US norms.
Page 1 of 4