Variable descriptions

Variable Description
iso3c ISO3 (character) country code
province (Short) name of Chinese province in English
yearmonth Year-month combination (the first day of each month has been appended to yield a complete date)
aid_total Value of total aid exports in USD
aid_medical Value of medical aid exports in USD
aid_non_medical Value of non-medical aid exports in USD

Country sample

China Customs omits entries with zero exports. To construct a balanced panel, we choose the countries and territories covered by the World Development Indicators that remain after removing non-UN small island developing states, overseas territories, as well as Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and China itself as our sample. By doing so, we include countries and territories that have not received any aid according to China Customs. Note that we adhere to this country sample even in the series listing aid exports by province to make sure the totals are the same.

Separating aid exports from other exports

We rely on the customs regimes reported by China Customs to identify aid exports. We include exports under the customs regimes “Aid or Donation between Governments and International Organizations (国家间、国际组织无偿援助和赠送的物资)” (code 11) and “Other Donations (其他捐赠物资)” (code 12).

Classification of medical goods

To identify goods as medical goods by their HS code, we use the list of medical products from Helble (2012) and complement it with a list of medical products specific to the treatment and prevention of COVID-19 issued by WTO (2020). Helble’s list contains a selection of medicines, inputs specific to the pharmaceutical industry, chemical inputs of general-purpose, hospital and laboratory inputs, and medical technology equipment. We use all codes from Helble’s Appendix 1 identifiable as HS revision 2007 codes and convert them to HS revision 2017 to match the Chinese aid data. From the WTO report, we use all product codes in Annex 1 (“List of Medical Products”). The list contains medicines (pharmaceuticals), medical supplies, medical equipment and personal protective products.

Data sources

General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China. “Customs Statistics”. Accessed November 1, 2022.

Helble, M. (2012). “More Trade for Better Health? International Trade and Tariffs on Health Products”. Staff Working Paper ERSD-2012-17. Geneva, Switzerland: World Trade Organization.

World Trade Organization (2020). “Trade in Medical Goods in the Context of Tackling COVID-19”, Annex 1. Geneva, Switzerland: World Trade Organization. Accessed October 25, 2022.