China is now the world’s second-biggest economy, but some of its provinces by themselves would rank fairly high in the global league. Our map shows the nearest equivalent country. For example, Guangdong’s GDP (at market exchange rates) is almost as big as Indonesia’s; the output of both Jiangsu and Shandong exceeds Switzerland’s. Some provinces may exaggerate their output: the sum of their reported GDPs is 10% higher than the national total. But over time the latter has consistently been revised up, suggesting that any overstatement is modest.
What about other economic yardsticks? Guangdong exports as much as South Korea, Jiangsu as much as Taiwan. Shanghai’s GDP per person is as high as Saudi Arabia’s (at purchasing-power parity), though still well below that in China’s special administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macau. At the other extreme, the poorest province, Guizhou, has an income per head close to that of India. Note that these figures use the same PPP conversion rate for the whole of China, but prices are likely to be lower in poorer provinces than in richer ones, slightly reducing regional inequality.