Chinese gold imports, the lone bright spot in an otherwise disastrous year for bullion in 2013, look set to fall from last year's record levels, adding to pressure on gold as analysts forecast a price decline for a second year.
But any drop-off in Chinese demand is likely to be limited by gold's 28 percent price-plunge in 2013, which has kept retail buyer interest high in the world's biggest bullion consumer, even as large investors scour for greater returns elsewhere.
(Read more: China gold consumption set to cool in 2014)
Chinese investors rushed to buy gold last year, particularly after a price plunge in April that drew queues of mom and pop buyers looking for a bargain.
In the first 11 months of 2013, Chinese imports more than doubled to 1,060 tons, based on the most recent data, making up about a third of global purchases.