"The rise of China from a poor, stagnant country to a major economic power within a time span of only 27 years is often described by analysts as one of the greatest economic success stories in modern times. From 1979 (when economic reforms were first introduced) to 2005, China's real gross domestic product (GDP) grew at an average annual rate of 9.7%, the size of its economy increased 11-fold, its real per capita GDP grew eightfold, and its world ranking for total trade rose from 27 to 3. By some measurements, China has become the world's second-largest economy, and it could be the largest within a decade. China's economic rise has led to a substantial growth in U.S.-China economic relations. Total trade between the two countries has surged from $4.9 billion in 1980 to $289 billion in 2005. For the United States, China is now its third-largest trading partner, its fourth-largest export market, and its second-largest source of imports. Inexpensive Chinese imports have increased the purchasing power of U.S. consumers. Many U.S. companies have extensive manufacturing operations in China in order to sell their products in the booming Chinese market and to take advantage of low-cost labor for exported goods. China's large-scale purchases of U.S. Treasury securities have funded federal deficits and helped keep U.S. interest rates relatively low. Despite the perceived threat from China, the U.S. economy has recently maintained full employment and robust economic growth. To date, the growth in Chinese exports appears to have come partly at the expense of Asian competitors."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33604