China overtook the U.S. last year to become the world's largest trading nation for the first time.
Chinese customs announced that China's total imports and exports were worth US$3.87 trillion, overtaking the U.S.' $3.86 trillion based on U.S. Department of Commerce figures.
While Chinese trade increased by 6.2 percent from 2011, the U.S.' only grew 3.5 percent. The difference was especially pronounced in exports. China exported $2.05 trillion worth of goods and the U.S. $1.56 trillion. China recorded a trade surplus of over $230 billion but the U.S. a deficit of $730 billion.
China overtook Japan in 2004 and Germany in 2009. The development was expected, but China got there faster than many had forecast.
However, while the world's most populous country seems to have achieved growth in quantity, experts say it cannot match its rivals in terms of quality. China's per-capita GDP is a paltry $5,400, placing it around 90th in the world and on a par with other developing countries.