According to a study by the World Gold Council, China has become the biggest consumer market for the precious metal. It toppled India, which had led the table ever since official data were first made available.
The survey found that Chinese customers had bought a total of 1,066 tons of gold products in 2013, up 32 percent from 2012, while their Indian counterparts had purchased 975 tons, up 13 percent from 2012 levels.
The council noted that another 300 tons of gold bought by Chinese clients last year were most likely not registered statistically.
"Although demand for gold has continued to shift, the growing hunger for bars, coins and jewelry is a global phenomenon," the London-based council announced in a statement. It added, though, that global consumer demand for the precious metal had dropped by 15 percent in 2013, to 3,756 tons, as exchange-traded funds (ETFs) reduced net gold holdings by 881 tons.
The mounting Chinese hunger for gold was mainly attributed to a fast-growing wealthier middle class in the country and a lack of other sound investment opportunities and instruments to protect against inflation.
China is also the world's biggest miner of gold, producing 428 tons in 2013, government reports indicated.
hg/mkg (AFP, dpa)