China has been newly tapped as the globe's biggest market for gold coins and bars, according to the World Gold Council.
Bloomberg reports the nation dethroned India during January, February and March of this past year, or the first quarter of 2011. China's investment demand for the precious metal surged 123 percent as it demanded 90.9 tons during that time period. By contrast, India demanded 8 percent more during that same time period, to total 85.6 tons.
"With increasing demand in China we will have to rely on imports to fill the gap between demand and supply," Albert Cheng, the council's managing director of the Far East, told the news service on Thursday.
China's increased appetite for importing gold is due to high investment demand. The nation is the world's top gold producer.
"Gold has taken on a new role in China amid concern about inflation," Song Qing, a director at Lion Fund Management, told the news service from Shanghai. "It is increasingly being seen as an asset allocation choice. Just imagine the total wealth in China and even a small percentage of that choosing to buy gold. This demand is going to be enormous."
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