China has squeaked by Britain by the tiniest of margins to become the world’s fourth-largest economy, according to the World Bank’s latest calculations.

The World Bank said that by its official measure China produced US$2.263825 trillion in output in 2005. That was just US$94 million, or 0.004 percent, more than Britain.

China comfortably overtook Britain last year based on each country’s gross domestic product converted into US dollars at current exchange rates.

But the World Bank’s widely watched ranking measures gross national income converted into dollars using the "Atlas" method of currency conversion, which smoothes out exchange rate fluctuations by using a three-year average.

Gross national income comprises gross domestic product plus net inflows of income such as rents, profits and salaries from abroad.

The United States, Japan and Germany remain the world’s first-, second- and third-largest economies, respectively, according to the World Bank, which posted its 2005 rankings over the weekend on its Web site (www.worldbank.org).

The main building of the World Bank.

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