As the so-called 'Christmas Boat' floats closer to the UK, China's Ministry of Information Industries (MII) last week revealed that Chinese exports of electronics and IT hardware accelerated during the first nine months of this year.

Chinese electronics exports between January and September were valued at $253.8 billion, a 38 per cent increase over the same period last year. Exports of electronics outpaced exports from other industries, representing 37 per cent of China's total foreign trade and accounting for 48 per cent of the export growth recorded so far this year, MII said.

Imports of electronics also did well, rising 34 per cent during the first nine months to $206.4 billion. The difference between the value of exports and imports left China with a trade surplus in electronics of $47.4 billion, the ministry said.

The increase in exports comes as Chinese factories churn out a range of products, including iPods, Macs, PCs, phones, MP3 players, LCD televisions and other products for markets around the world.

The growing importance of China as an electronics manufacturing base is underscored by the recent announcement that Hon Hai Precision Industry, the world's largest contract electronics makers, plans to significantly increase its investment in China.

The company will invest over $1 billion to expand its Chinese manufacturing base with the construction of several factories near Huai'an, in China's eastern Jiangsu province.