China's trade with the European Union soared to record levels in 2004, hitting US$159.3bn in the first 11 months of the year, up almost 35% on the same period a year earlier. The latest figures push the EU well ahead of Japan and the US, making it China's largest trade partner. China is the EU's second largest trade partner after the US, the Ministry of Commerce in Beijing said. Within the EU, China's biggest trade partners are Germany, Holland, the UK, France and Italy, the ministry said, taking 72% of gross trade volume with Europe. Officials said the EU is the fourth largest source of foreign investment in the Chinese mainland, after Hong Kong, the US and Japan, and the number one exporter of technologies to China.