China has been the world's largest exporter of goods since 2009. Official estimates suggest Chinese exports amounted to $2.097 trillion in 2017. Since 2013, China has also become the largest trading nation in the world. This position was previously held by the United States.
Chinese growth as a global trading giant has been exceptionally quick. Throughout their long history, the Chinese population has pursued protectionist and isolating trading policies. This isolation continued under Chairman Mao Zedong, but since his death in 1976, there has been a focus on trade and foreign investment. The economic growth has been rapid since then.
China has a large number of dominant industries that create products and materials for export. The most prominent amongst the finished products exported from China are electrical goods, data processing technologies, clothing and other textiles, and optical and medical equipment. China also has the world's biggest new car market and exports a significant amount of raw materials, particularly steel. These raw materials are exported to other countries to be processed and reassembled.
Japan and South Korea
China's main trading partners are its close geographical neighbors – Japan and South Korea. China and Japan specifically have enjoyed a beneficial trade relationship that grows stronger by the day. China also does a great deal of business with the U.S. and Germany. It is estimated that by the end of the decade, China is likely to do more bilateral trade with individual European states than these states will do with one another.
There have been concerns voiced as to the accuracy of Chinese data collection when it comes to exports. There have been suspicions that China overstated its total exports in order to avoid controls on international transactions in a bid to bring more money into the country.