Most of the world has been knee deep in a wicked recession for quite a while, and auto sales have been hit especially hard. Here in the U.S., the numbers have been abysmal, as the first half of the year saw only 4.8 million sales through June. China, on the other hand, is running away with the overall sales lead, as the emerging emerged market has added 6.1 million cars and trucks to its still developing roadways. According to The Associated Press, June sales were up 36% over the same period in 2008, and they're up 17% on the year.

The big winner in the market so far this year appears to be General Motors. The struggling Detroit, MI-based automaker has seen its China sales jump by 38% this year; while its U.S. sales have tanked. Industry analysts are predicting that the overall market for passenger cars in China will be between 10 and 11 million units.

Most experts weren't expecting China to pass the U.S. in overall sales for another decade, but the crumbling American auto industry has expedited the power shift, at least for the short term. With 1.3 billion people and a healthy economy, this day was destined to come.

[Source: The Associated Press via Google]