Few subjects have received as much scholarly and popular attention over the past decade as China's deepening participation in the world economy and its myriad implications for international politics. Prior to the era of “reform and opening” that began shortly after long-time leader Mao Zedong died in 1976, China was a marginal actor in international economic affairs. Today, however, its relationship with the world economy is one of substantial reciprocal impact. Not surprisingly, there is a vibrant literature documenting and analyzing China's emergence as a major force in the world economy. Distinct threads have examined subjects such as China's behavior in international economic organizations and the making of its foreign economic policy (Lardy 1999, 2002; Pearson 1999a, 1999b, 2001, 2006, 2014). One subject that has received less sustained attention is how the pattern of China's ties to the world economy has evolved over time, both in general and with respect to specific actors (individual countries, regions, groups). Accordingly, this chapter examines China's rapid ascent as an international trader and participant in foreign investment activities – the two most prominent aspects of China's involvement in the world economy – for insight into how the nature of China's economic ties has changed in the past and continues to develop.