The Chinese like their records, and heaven knows they are good at counting. With a population of 1.3 billion, they can usually expect quite a few world records in various endeavours. In economic terms, last month they took out the silver medal for the world’s second-largest economy, by total GDP, pipping arch-rival Japan, but with still a way to go to attain America’s gold. According to an oftquoted Goldman Sachs report, China will have the world’s largest economy by 2027. Of course, GDP per capita only puts China at 124th in the world, but there’s no need to point that out in these celebratory times.

Other economic records for the world’s fastest growing economy include these August year-on-year numbers: industrial output up 13.9 per cent, retail sales up 18.4 per cent and fixed asset investment up 24.8 per cent. The total trade surplus slipped as imports continued to increase to satisfy China’s expanding domestic demand, but was still the world’s biggest at US$20 billion for the month. Economists who question the credibility of some of China’s numbers like to look at power consumption as a better proxy for growth. This was up 14.7 per cent. All this was achieved with inflation being held to 3.5 per cent annualised.

Hmm, that number is little more difficult to believe, although it does fit with predicted inflation ranges from western analysts such as those at HSBC and Goldman. Some in China, though, think that their world records are not always given the credit that they are due. So they have started the China World Record Association, which not only better promotes the records that have been recognised but also comes up with whole new categories for competition. This was formed after the Beijing Olympics, when there was an outcry over refusal to agree that the Chinese torch-carrying before the opening ceremony was indeed the longest ever. Apparently, the drunken Irishmen in charge of the Guinness Book of Records disqualified China on a technicality.

The Shanghai World Expo, which is still underway, with record crowds, it should be noted, has produced several, including the largest-ever LED display, which covers 500 sq m with pixels reaching 13.8 million, making it the number one monomer high-density LED in the world. But the China World Record Association, as an egalitarian body, has recognised several other records recently which would undoubtedly go unnoticed if not for the association’s hard work. There are, for instance: the world’s smallest working slingshot; the world’s largest gourd made of rice paper; the world’s longest banquet, which sat people down at a 2,272-metre table to eat food from the “autonomous County” of Wa in the Yunnan province; and one which is difficult describe – a simulated dead tree with more miniature ant models than any other simulated dead tree. Actually the last one was quite a feat.

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