Wow, Talk about false perceptions. This was one of the things that I had taken for granted for so long that it was very surprising for me to ready today that China is not the world's largest manufacturer. I read this at Helen Wang's site http://helenhwang.net/2010/03/myth-of-manufacturing/
"The latest data shows, however, that the United States is still the largest manufacturer in the world. In 2008, U.S. manufacturing output was $1.8 trillion, compared to $1.4 trillion in China (UN data. China’s data do not separate manufacturing from mining and utilities. So the actual Chinese manufacturing number should be much smaller)."
Make sure to read the complete article, it has more interesting facts about how the manufacturing growth in China has not resulted in a rise in the middle class.