Charting and Mapping China’s Exports Since 2001

This post is by Pallavi Rao from Visual Capitalist

A map and graph of the destination and growth of China's exports in the 21st century.

Charting and Mapping China’s Exports Since 2001

Between the dawn of the Roman Empire and the first factory built in the Industrial Revolution, China was one of the most powerful economies on the planet, with a gross domestic product that made up roughly 30% of the global economy.

By the 1970s, the country’s economy had regressed to a shadow of its historic self, with a per-capita income equal to one-third of sub-Saharan Africa. But over the next four decades, China’s rapid industrial transformation made it the manufacturing powerhouse of the world, and exports rapidly ballooned.

Which markets are receiving all of these exports? This graphic from Ehsan Soltani uses data from the World Trade Organization and the customs office of China to track the biggest destinations of China’s merchandise exports—defined as goods that leave the territory of a country—since the 2000s.

China’s Top Export Markets from 2001‒2022

In 2001, when China joined the World Trade Organization, the value of its merchandise exports stood at $266 billion. Over the next seven years, the country’s exports grew uninterrupted until the 2008 financial crisis caused a sharp decline in global trade.

This cycle would repeat again with consecutive growth until 2015 (another global trade slowdown), followed by slowed growth until 2020 (the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic).

But merchandise exports skyrocketed by 30% in 2021, and by the end of 2022 had grown to an estimated $3.6 trillion per year. That means China’s exports alone are bigger than the entire economies of (Read more…)