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 countries like the UK, India, and France.
Which countries were receiving most of these merchandise exports? Here are China’s top export markets from 2022 and their change since 2001:
|China's Export Market||2001||2022||Change (%)|
|🇭🇰 Hong Kong||$46,541M||$297,538M||539%|
|🇰🇷 South Korea||$12,519M||$162,621M||1,199%|
|🇻🇳 Viet Nam||$1,798M||$146,960M||8,074%|
|🌎 Rest of the World||$48,847M||$1,294,427M||2,550%|
Despite Trump-era tariffs and a growing geopolitical rift over the last few years, the U.S. has been the biggest market for China’s exports for the last two decades. In 2022, the country received nearly $582 billion in goods from China.
Close behind, the 27 member states of the European Union rank as the second biggest market for exported Chinese goods at $562 billion. The largest individual country was the Netherlands, which accounted for $118 billion or just under 21% of Chinese merchandise exports to the EU.
How do other individual countries compare? Below is the full list of China’s export markets in 2022 by countries and territories:
|Country / Territory||China Exports (2022)|
|Papua New Guinea||$1,426M|
|Republic of Congo||$976M|
|Trinidad and Tobago||$544M|
|Bosnia and Hercegovina||$185M|
|Antigua and Barbuda||$105M|
|Central African Republic||$52M|
|Sao Tome and Principe||$15M|
|Saint Martin Islands||$5M|
|Wallis and Futuna||$2M|
Will China’s Exports Continue to Grow?
Like the broader global economy, the Chinese economy is starting to re-adjust.
For one, the country is beginning to rebalance exports from its manufacturing-heavy mix to a more even allocation of both manufacturing and services. Secondly, the economy’s overall reliance on exports has decreased significantly from its highs in the mid-2000s, with an aim to increase domestic consumption and have a more self-sufficient economy overall.
That’s not to say that Chinese dominance on the world export stage is expected to waver. With far-reaching economic policies like the One Belt, One Road initiative and the RCEP trade agreement between 15 countries in Asia and Oceania, there are plenty of future growth avenues for Chinese exports.
As the country faces an unprecedented internal demographic shift in the coming decades, perhaps China’s robust export sector will be key to continued economic growth.
This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.
How Much Do Americans Trust the Media?
Media trust among Americans has reached its lowest point since Trump won the 2016 presidential election.
How Much Do Americans Trust the Media?
Media trust among Americans has reached its lowest point in six years.
Gallup began its survey on media trust in 1972, repeating it in 1974 and 1976. After a long period, the public opinion firm restarted the polls in 1997 and has asked Americans about their confidence level in the mass media—newspapers, TV, and radio—almost every year since then.
The above graphic illustrates Gallup’s latest poll results, conducted in September 2023.
Americans’ Trust in Mass Media, 1972-2023
Americans’ confidence in the mass media has sharply declined over the last few decades.
|Trust in the mass media||% Great deal/Fair amount||% Not very much||% None at all|
In 2016, the number of respondents trusting media outlets fell below the tally of those who didn’t trust the media at all. This is the first time that has happened in the poll’s history.
That year was marked by sharp criticism of the media from then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.
In 2017, the use of the term ‘fake news’ rose by 365% on social media, and the term was named the word of the year by dictionary publisher Collins.
The Lack of Faith in Institutions and Social Media
Although there’s no single reason to explain the decline of trust in the traditional media, some studies point to potential drivers.
According to Michael Schudson, a sociologist and historian of the news media and a professor at the Columbia Journalism School, in the 1970s, faith in institutions like the White House or Congress began to decline, consequently impacting confidence in the media.
“That may have been a necessary corrective to a sense of complacency that had been creeping in—among the public and the news media—that allowed perhaps too much trust: we accepted President Eisenhower’s lies about the U-2 spy plane, President Kennedy’s lies about the ‘missile gap,’ President Johnson’s lies about the war in Vietnam, President Nixon’s lies about Watergate,”
Michael Schudson – Columbia Journalism School
More recently, the internet and social media have significantly changed how people consume media. The rise of platforms such as X/Twitter and Facebook have also disrupted the traditional media status quo.
Partisans’ Trust in Mass Media
Historically, Democrats have expressed more confidence in the media than Republicans.
Democrats’ trust, however, has fallen 12 points over the past year to 58%, compared with 11% among Republicans and 29% among independents.
According to Gallup, Republicans’ low confidence in the media has little room to worsen, but Democrat confidence could still deteriorate and bring the overall national reading down further.
The poll also shows that young Democrats have less confidence in the media than older Democrats, while Republicans are less varied in their views by age group.
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