Taking the crown from the United States as the world's largest commodity trading nation is inspiring news for China at the start of 2014.
In the eyes of domestic and overseas observers, China's foreign trade hitting another record high proves it has been constantly opening up to the outside, which not only boosts its investment abroad, but brings about more dividends and opportunities for world development.
According to official figures disclosed on Jan. 10 by the General Administration of Customs, China's exports and imports totalled 4.16 trillion U.S. dollars, and the trade surplus for 2013 reached 259.75 billion dollars, marking an increase of 12.8 percent year-on-year.
This was another major milestone for China, after it became the world's No.1 exporter back in 2009.
Behind the impressive figures, the structure and landscape of China's foreign trade are changing. Seeking to upgrade trade is an important step towards strengthening China's opening up effort.
A central economic working conference in mid-December last year laid out the agenda for foreign trade development in 2014. It emphasized the need to create comparative advantages and competitiveness in exports and to enlarge imports of equipment and technologies that facilitate domestic economic restructuring.
Observers say steady growth of foreign trade provides strong support for China's robust increase in foreign investment, and pushes Chinese enterprises to move up the value chain in the global market.
Bai Ming, a research fellow with the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, said more countries hoped to attract Chinese investment to bolster their own economies, as China had solid capital strength and Chinese companies continued to update their technologies.
The Ministry of Commerce statistics evidenced the trend. In the first 10 months of 2013, China's non-financial FDI (foreign direct investment) rose one fifth. For 2012, China's FDI increased 17.6 percent to a record 87.8 billion dollars, making it the third biggest source of FDI following the U.S. and Japan.
In the meantime, Chinese private enterprises were involved in a wave of overseas mergers and acquisitions last year in real estate, food and other services, including Fosun International's buyout of One Chase Manhattan Plaza, Shuanghui's acquisition of Smithfield Foods and Yashili's dairy investment in New Zealand.
At the beginning of 2014, a report from Rhodium Group (RHG) again put "Chinese investment" in the limelight, claiming China's investment in the United States doubled in 2013 to 14 billion dollars, its highest level in history.
Deloitte, one of accounting's Big Four, has forecast China's overseas takeover will reach double-digit growth in the next 12 months, propelled by both strengthening confidence and resources demand.
In addition, foreign investment by Chinese enterprises also gives a boost to local employment and economic growth, opening a win-win situation for both parties.
According to the RHG report, Chinese corporations have now become a big employer of Americans. By the end of 2013, Chinese companies have created more than 70,000 full-time jobs in the United States, an eightfold increase from 2007.
The continuously expanding investment, stimulated by active trade activity, will benefit countries that maintain close ties with China. And the world's major developed economies could also take a piece of the pie.