Category: one belt one road

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...)

China’s Economy: 40 Years of Soaring Exports

This post is by Avery Koop from Visual Capitalist

Animated Chart: 40 Years of Soaring Exports in China

China has the second highest GDP in the world, and it exports 15% of all the world’s goods. But how did this come to be?

A mere 40 years ago, China’s economy was in an entirely different situation, making up less than 1% of global exports and still in the infancy stages of building its economy. The above animated chart from the UNCTAD showcases China’s rise to global trade dominance over time.

Timeline: The Rise to Power

The China of the mid-20th century looks remarkably different when compared to the modern-day nation. Prior to the 1980s, China was going through a period of social upheaval, poverty, and dictatorship under Mao Zedong.

The 1970s

Beginning in the late 1970s, China’s share of global exports stood at less than 1%. The country had few trade hubs and little industry. In 1979, for example, Shenzhen was a city of just around 30,000 inhabitants.

In fact, China (excluding Taiwan* and Hong Kong) did not even show up in the top 10 global exporters until 1997 when it hit a 3.3% share of global exports.

YearShare of Global ExportsRank

*Editor’s note: The above data comes from the UN, which lists Taiwan as a separate region of China for political reasons.

The 1980s

In the 1980s, several cities and regions, like the Pearl River Delta, were designated as Special (Read more...)