The question of if and when China will take America's place as world's largest and most powerful economy has inspired a lot of debate. U.S. intelligence analysts predict it will happen by 2030; according to OECD estimates, it could be as early as 2016. Going by Chinese estimates, the country's economy might not surpass the U.S. at any point this century.
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As for the general public's opinion, China has already overtaken the U.S. as the world's largest and most powerful economy, or will soon. Since the financial crisis, an increasing number of people around the world believe China has surpassed the US, according to a yearly survey (pdf) by the Pew Research Center.
This year's poll of about 38,000 people found that in 23 of 39 countries surveyed, a plurality of respondents said they believed China would or had already replaced the U.S. as the world's no. 1 superpower. Looking at 20 countries polled in 2008 and then again this year, Pew found that the percentage of those who placed China in the top spot went up in all but one country (Mexico). The median percentage of people (the midpoint in the range of percentages in each of the 20 countries) who view China as top dog in these 20 countries rose to 34 percent this year, from 20 percent in 2008. Meanwhile, the median percentage that named the U.S. fell to 41 percent from 47 percent.