China's economy might be No 1 in 2030

China's economy will become twice as big as that of the United States and larger than both the US and the EU combined within just 17 years, according to one of China's leading economists.

Hu Angang, dean of the Institute for Contemporary China Studies, one of China's leading think tanks, makes the prediction in his new book, China 2030.

The book, already out in Chinese and to be published in English next month, is likely to attract major interest around the world.

His forecast - which also sees China becoming the biggest economy by 2020 - is the boldest and most optimistic prediction yet about China's economic future.

It also comes at a time when there are concerns about China's short-term prospects with GDP growth slower than expected in the first quarter at 7.7 per cent, down from 7.9 per cent in the final quarter of last year.

China still has a hurdle to cross just to overtake the US, with China's US$8.23 trillion (S$10.21) nominal GDP being just over half (52 per cent) of the US' US$15.68 trillion in 2012, according to the International Monetary Fund.

However, the likelihood of matching the US sooner rather than later has certainly increased since Goldman Sachs made its forecast in 2006 that China will be the biggest economy by 2025.

That too was also considered optimistic at the time but the financial crisis has hit the US hard and might now even be considered a conservative estimate.

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