While China's double-digit growth rate during the financial crisis and recession has been the envy of the world, most people agree that we may have seen the last of the country's miraculous growth.
Yes, China's growth is slowing. But it's too early to get all pessimistic.
Despite a mixed bag of economic data, Chinese companies don't seem to be feeling the pinch.
For the first time on record, China overtook Japan as the country with the second-highest number of companies on the Fortune Global 500 list, the magazine's yearly ranking of the world's 500 largest corporations. To qualify in 2012, a firm had to report at least $22 billion in revenue last year. Total revenue at the 500 companies gained 13.2 percent from 2010, to $29.5 trillion, while profits hit $1.6 trillion.
Japan, which is still trying to recover from last year's devastating earthquake and tsunami, came in third with 68 companies on the list. The world's third-largest economy posted a set of weak economic figures on Monday, underscoring fears that Japan is once again on the edge of recession. Economists are projecting that the Japanese gross domestic product will likely contract during the two final quarters of 2012.
Meanwhile, economic recovery in the U.S. also appears to be losing steam.
The job market eked out another month of modest gains in June as a major slowdown engulfed the U.S. economy. The unemployment rate has been stuck above 8 percent since February 2009.
The prolonged sluggish economic growth has taken a toll on U.S. corporate profits. Wall Street analysts are projecting a 1 percent decline in second-quarter 2012 S&P 500 operating earnings, according to Capital IQ consensus earnings expectations.
Although the U.S. still hosts the lion's share of Global 500 corporations, no country has lost more companies during the last decade. There are 132 U.S.-headquartered businesses on this year's list, down from 197 a decade ago.
After two years of being on top, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) this year lost its crown to the Netherlands-based energy company Royal Dutch Shell plc (NYSE: RDS.A) and fell to the third place. Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE: XOM) secured the No. 2 spot.
European based companies gave up 11 spots this year as the continent continues to struggle with the sovereign debt crisis. For 2012, Europe had 161 companies on the list.
China, on the other hand, has been picking up share for nine consecutive years. The country saw an increase of 62 businesses on the list since 2002. During the past year, China added 12 companies to Fortune's list, pushing the total figure to a record-high of 73.
China is represented three times in the Top 10, with China's biggest oil producer and refiner Sinopec Group at No. 5, China National Petroleum at No. 6 and State Grid at No. 7.
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (SHA: 601398), the nation's largest, ranked the third most profitable company with $32.2 billion in profits, a 32 percent increase from 2010. China Construction Bank Corporation (SHA: 601939), the second largest bank in China, was the sixth most profitable company, with $22.2 billion in profits.
No doubt, the behemoths took in the big bucks. Revenue at the 73 Chinese companies from mainland China reached $3.98 trillion -- 54 percent of the country's 2011 GDP.