China and the United States: Tale of Two Giant Economies

China wants to overtake the U.S. to become the world’s biggest economy. That could happen in about 10 years if China can pull off the tricky transition from a government-run, centralized growth model to a more market-driven one where services and consumption play a greater part. Here’s a by-the-numbers look at the relationship between the world’s two economic giants.

China’s GDP will overtake the U.S. level in at these 2030 target growth rates:

Interactive chart assumes gradual change from 2015 pace to nominated 2030 rate

China and the U.S. make up about 36 percent of the world economy

As China grows, it’s making up a larger share of the global economy. But it’s not all at America’s expense — China is muscling out Europe and Japan too.

Average Chinese people are still way poorer than Americans

China’s policymakers want to boost wages to drive consumption, but higher wages make China’s factories more expensive to run. To catch up to a U.S. standard of living, China needs to focus on becoming more efficient.

China is already the world’s largest trading nation

China’s exporting prowess has fueled massive trade surpluses and tensions with the U.S. While Donald Trump calls it “the greatest theft in the history of the world,” China’s policymakers are already trying to rebalance away from reliance on external demand as they stoke domestic spending.

China has a smaller proportion of city dwellers today than the U.S. did in 1930

Farming in China is changing but there’s still plenty of room for improvement, and lots more demand to come for jobs, apartments, and services in the nation’s cities.

The U.S. and Chinese economies are increasingly intertwined, making their bilateral relationship key to global prospects. While the 20th century belonged to America, whether the 21st will be China’s remains to be seen.