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News Wrap: China Passes Japan to Become World’s No. 2 Economy

February 14, 2011 at 9:25 PM EDT
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In other news Monday, China passed Japan to become the world's second-largest economy after Japan's economy shrunk the final quarter of 2010. Japan has placed behind the U.S. for much of the past 40 years. In Iran, protests inspired by the uprising in Egypt brought thousands of opposition demonstrators into central Tehran.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: The budget unveiling had mixed results on Wall Street today, as investors weighed the impact of the proposal. The Dow Jones industrial average lost five points to close at 12,268. The Nasdaq rose nearly eight points to close at 2,817.

China has officially become the number-two economy in the world. The country overtook Japan, after Japanese data confirmed its economy shrank during the last quarter of 2010. Japan had been the world’s second largest economy after the U.S. for much of the last four decades.

The ripple effects from the massive uprising in Egypt have spread further across the region. Security forces in Iran clashed with thousands of opposition protesters today at a banned rally in central Tehran. Iran’s semi-official news agency reported one death in the demonstrations.

We have a report narrated by Lindsey Hilsum of Independent Television News.

LINDSEY HILSUM: A solitary protester telling others, today is the day, the first anti-government protest in Iran for a year.

“Tunisia, Egypt, now Iran,” they chanted, naming the deposed leaders Ben Ali, Mubarak, adding Khamenei, the supreme leader. The pictures of poor quality taken by protesters — no journalists were allowed to film the several thousand Iranians who braved the authorities on the streets of Tehran and other cities today.

Someone filmed the feared Basij militia on their motorbikes heading downtown, camera hidden in the car. Thousands were arrested and assaulted by the Basij when Iranians protested in 2009 and ’10. There were scuffles on the street today as protesters tried to burn a government poster and attacked a man who tried to stop them.

Iran’s main opposition leaders, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, were confined to their houses today, the government determined to stop them joining the protests. By evening, fires were burning in Tehran. Last month alone, 67 people were executed in Iran. Hundreds arrested during the post-election protests of 2009 remain in prison.

But, despite the dangers, Egypt appears to have reignited Iran’s anti-government movement.

HARI SREENIVASAN: In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put her support behind the protesters, and she called on the Iranian regime to open up its political system.

The upheaval in Egypt also inspired rallies in other countries. Thousands of people took to the streets of Yemen for a fourth straight day of demonstrations. They marched in Sanaa to demand political reforms and the resignation of their president.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, hundreds protested in central Baghdad against corruption and a lack of government services. And protesters in the tiny Gulf nation of Bahrain called for greater political change there.

In the West Bank, the Palestinian prime minister dissolved his Cabinet. The government plans to hold new elections by September.

At least two people died in a bombing in the capital of Afghanistan. A suicide bomber detonated his explosives near an upscale hotel and shopping complex in central Kabul. It is the second attack in less than a month on a site regularly visited by foreigners. Separately, two British soldiers died in a fire at their base west of Kandahar.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.