Last month China disclosed figures for 2013 confirming that it had replaced the United States as the world's largest trading nation, with the country passing another milestone in its march toward superpower status. China's overall trade in goods rose 7.6 percent over the previous year to reach $4.16 trillion. Final U.S. figures are not yet available but they are almost certain to fall below $4 trillion.

As recently as 2006, the U.S. was the most important trading partner for 127 countries, compared to 70 for China. However, only five years later, the two had changed places, with China being the most important trading partner for 124 countries, compared to 76 for the U.S.

Total U.S.-China bilateral trade in 2013 stood at $559 billion, with the American trade deficit exceeding $300 billion. This is a remarkable increase over the $5 billion in trade in 1981, two years after the establishment of diplomatic relations.