As China's Vice President Xi Jinping wraps up his visit to the United States, a new poll finds most Americans now believe - incorrectly - that China has the world's largest economy.
The poll, by the U.S.-based Gallup research firm, found that 53 percent of Americans consider China to be economically superior. By comparison, only 33 percent said they viewed the U.S. as the top economic power.
The figure represents a dramatic change in U.S. perceptions of China. In 2000, only 10 percent of Americans thought of China's economy as being the largest.
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A sampling of public opinion on the street in Washington seems to confirm the shift. Several Americans approached by VOA, including a young woman who provided only her first name, Cleo, said they believe China's economy is larger than the economy of the U.S.
"It's probably number one. In straight dollars, I think it's probably beating the U.S. at this point," she said.
In reality, the U.S. gross domestic product, which stands at $14.6 trillion, is by far the largest in the world. It is more than twice the size of China's second place GDP, which the World Bank puts at $5.9 trillion.
What the future holds
Economic forecasts suggest that China's GDP will overtake that of the U.S. in the coming decades. This fact, along with the recent economic downturn in the U.S., may be influencing U.S. perceptions of Chinese strength.
The Gallup poll says the idea of Chinese economic dominance has taken hold in the United States only since the start of the U.S. recession in 2008. Gallup says opinions could change when the U.S. economy starts to recover.
Chinese citizens do not appear to be as confident as Americans about the strength of their own economy. An editorial this week in the Communist Party-controlled Global Times newspaper quoted a poll in which only 14 percent of Chinese said their country has become a world power.