China's influence on the global silver market has surged since the turn of the century

In tandem with its economic resurgence China's position on the international silver market has changed dramatically since the turn of the century, with the Middle Kingdom expected soon become world's second biggest producer of the precious metal.

Kitco News reports that a new study on the Chinese silver market published by Thomson Reuters GFMS and commissioned by the Silver Institute says that China has transformed from a "relatively small player" on the silver market as recently as the 1990's into the world's second largest silver fabricator with a burgeoning share of both global supply and demand.

China's share of global silver demand and supply currently stands at 17% and 14% respectively, while the country is expected to soon become the world's second-largest producer of the precious metal.

Total silver demand in China increased more than two-fold during the period from 2002 to 2011, rising from 67.1 million ounces to 170.7 million, with gains driven by both vigorous economic growth and liberalization of the country's silver market.

Demand for silver has seen especially strong gains in China's jewelry and investment markets. During the period from 2002 – 2011 the country's silver jewelery market grew by 211% to reach 54.4 million ounces.

On the investment front in 2010 alone net demand for silver bars and coins doubled to 9.8 million ounces on the back of liberalization of the silver investment market the preceding year, while in 2011 China accounted for 8% of global net purchases of silver bars and coins.

Chinese silver output has also seen stunning gains over the past decade, rising almost two-fold to hit 104.6 million ounces. China's mine production of silver currently accounts for 14% of global supply, and the country expected to become the second largest silver producer for the year 2012.