- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 20, 2005

BEIJING (AP) — China said yesterday its economy is much bigger and less dependent on exports than previously reported.

Analysts said the new data make China’s roaring growth look easier to sustain and could encourage even more foreign investment.

A new survey of China’s economy boosted its official output for 2004 by 16.8 percent by taking into account emerging service businesses, the government said.

It said services’ share of the economy rose sharply, while that of manufacturing fell.

The results show China’s mainland replacing Italy as the world’s sixth-largest economy, trailing Britain and France. China would jump to No. 4, behind only Germany, Japan and the United States, if it added in Hong Kong, which reports its figures separately.

The figures mean China’s rates of exports and investment are smaller as a percentage of the total economy, possibly easing fears they were unsustainably high, analysts said.

“The Chinese economic miracle will look less like a miracle and more like a normal country,” said Steve Tsang, director of the Asian Studies Center at St. Antony’s College at Britain’s Oxford University.

“It would mean the economy’s ability to continue at the current rate of growth is better,” Mr. Tsang said.

The figures were released by the National Bureau of Statistics of China, which said it surveyed 30 million businesses, including restaurants, karaoke bars and others in booming service industries.

The new data put China’s 2004 gross domestic product (GDP), the broadest measure of trade in goods and services, at nearly $2 trillion. That was up $285 billion from numbers previously reported.

“Based on these figures, we can have even more confidence in our long-term fairly fast and sustained economic growth,” Li Deshui, director of the statistics bureau, said.

Even more important could be the finding that Chinese consumers are spending much more than previously thought, spurring economic growth and reducing reliance on exports, economists said.

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