Ulp! Comrades, from under which stone did that $283 billion (€238.9bn; £161.3bn) crawl?

That's the question on the lips of state economists in Wall Street's favourite totalitarian regime - the People's Republic of China.

But the comrades' carelessness in discovering they'd understated the nation's gross domestic product during 2004 by an eyewatering $283bn (16.8%) is unlikely to result in the rolling of heads. That teensy oversight undoubtedly helped deflate world pressure on China's political leaders to revalue the yuan.

The discovery of this 'error', as 2005 lumbers towards its close, propels the nation several places up the world economic rankings, overtaking Italy to occupy sixth place behind the USA, Japan, Germany, France and the UK.

Says Louisa Lim, the BBC's correspondent in Beijing: "Some sceptical economists point out that China has a long tradition of massaging statistics for political motives."

Furthermore, the revision is music to the ears of the World Bank, according to Lim: "It's not uncommon for countries with dynamic economies to under-represent rapidly growing enterprises," she comments.

Meantime, at China's National Bureau of Statistics no heads were bowed in shame at the mega-blooper.

"The revised statistics show that China's economic structure is more reasonable and healthy than the previous figures showed," whooped NBS boss Li Deshui. However: "We still have a long way to go to catch up with the developed countries," Li lied.

Western economists predict that if current growth rates continue, China will make it into fourth position by the end of 2005.

Data sourced from BBC Online; additional content by WARC staff