Before 1949, China used to consume a limited quantity of rubber amounting to only about 20,000 tons a year. Today the People's Republic has emerged as a significant factor in the world rubber market. In 1972, with the import of 190,000 tons, all from South-east Asia – a region which produces over 90 per cent of the world's supply, China absorbed 7 per cent of the world's traded rubber. China's purchases rank her above such traditionally large rubber consumers as Britain. The importance of China in the rubber trade is reflected not only in her rapidly growing share in the world market, but also in her potential as either a stabilizing or de-stabilizing force on rubber prices. For years China has followed an erratic buying pattern, and on many occasions her sudden entry and withdrawal created a “stir” in the market, especially in Malaysia and Singapore.