As a developing country, China was exempt from emissions limits under the Kyoto Protocol aimed at curbing climate change. Some Western companies complained that gave its manufacturers an unfair price advantage.
The huge volume of China's imports makes it a driver of growth for suppliers of goods from iron ore to computer chips, which is starting to translate into political influence.
Even with growth slower than its double-digit rates of the past decade, China's share of world output and trade is expected to keep rising. Annual growth is forecast at up to 8 percent over the next decade, far above U.S. and European levels.
Chinese leaders are trying to nurture more self-sustaining economic growth based on domestic consumption instead of exports. That might slow demand growth for some raw materials, but China's appetite for other imports could pick up as consumer spending rises.
Chinese Ministry of Commerce (in Chinese): www.mofcom.gov.cn
EDITOR'S NOTE _ This story is part of "China's Reach," a project tracking China's influence on its trading partners over three decades and exploring how that is changing business, politics and daily life. Keep up with AP's reporting on China's Reach, and join the conversation about it, using the hashtag (hash)APChinaReach on Twitter.
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