What is interesting is that China is merely retaking the position it held in the 19th Century. Think of this as mean reversion. It was always going to happen after what history will see as the blip of communism (a large blip granted).
The UKs once leading position, taking over from China, now seems a long time ago.
It is still astonishing that although China now has the top spot that it takes 9 people to the US's one to manage it. Now we see the gulf between China and the US is still a large one.
China noses ahead as top goods producer [FT]
China has become the world’s top manufacturing country by output, returning the country to the position it occupied in the early 19th century and ending the US’s 110-year run as the largest goods producer.
The change is revealed in a study released on Monday by IHS Global Insight, a US-based economics consultancy, which estimates that China last year accounted for 19.8 per cent of world manufacturing output, fractionally ahead of the US with 19.4 per cent.
China’s reversion to the top position marked the “closing of a 500-year cycle in economic history”, said Robert Allen of Nuffield College, Oxford, a leading economic historian.
The last time China was the world’s biggest goods producer was in about 1850 when the country was close to the end of a long period of population growth and technological ascendancy. Buoyed by the industrial revolution, the UK then became the top maker of factory goods and held this position for almost 50 years, following which the US began a long run as the world’s premier manufacturing nation.
China makes more than the US, but takes nine times as many people to do so
Nicholas Crafts of Warwick university, an expert on long-term economic change, said: “This marks a fundamental shift in the global division of labour [involving goods production] which is unlikely to be reversed in the near future.”