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China’s Real Leap Forward

The economic gains of China over four decades are truly astonishing.

November 6, 2013

Richard Nixon was the first U.S. president to visit China while in office.

1. In 1972, GDP per capita in Beijing – in today’s dollars – was about $130.

2. In 2012, it was almost $14,000, with a purchasing power equivalent to about $21,000.

3. That’s a more than 100-fold increase in the wealth of the average Beijinger!

4. In 1972, Taiwan’s 16 million people had a GDP that was slightly larger than that for all of mainland China’s 875 million.

5. The Chinese economy is now expected to surpass the U.S. GDP in purchasing power terms by 2016 – by the time when the United States holds its next presidential election.

6. And there is another big milestone ahead: China will almost certainly overtake the U.S. economy in nominal exchange rate terms before the 2021 centennial of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party.

From “Interesting Times at the Committee for the Republic” by Amb. Chas W. Freeman Jr. (U.S.F.S., Retired)



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Since 1972, GDP per capita in Beijing has grown 100-fold.

In 1972, Taiwan's 16 million people had a larger economy than all of mainland China's 875 million people.

The Chinese economy will surpass that of the US before the next US presidential election.