The figures and tables on this page provide a glimpse at the allocation and composition of Chinese aid exports as well as their changes during the Covid-19 pandemic. They will be updated as later data become available.

We analyze aid export data from China’s General Administration of Customs more systematically in Fuchs et al. (2022c). In Fuchs et al. (2022a), we apply a similar methodology to investigate Chinese aid to Africa. For a discussion of China’s (commercial) exports of medical goods during the Covid-19 pandemic, see Fuchs et al. (2022b).

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Aid allocation

Most countries in the world have received aid exports from China since 2017. Out of the 195 countries in our sample, only 11 did not receive any aid. The top recipients were Cambodia (5.51%), Ethiopia (4.18%), Pakistan (4.06%), Tajikistan (3.81%), and Myanmar (3.43%).

Total Chinese aid exports by recipient country since 2017 in US$

Aid composition

China’s aid exports are diverse. While some product categories (such as iron and steel) are in line with the notion of China building infrastructure projects abroad, other product categories reflect specific world events. For example, pharmaceutical products became an important category during the Covid-19 pandemic. Below, we list the top ten product categories. The categories correspond to chapters of the Harmonized System used by customs administrations worldwide.

HS Chapter Description Value (Mio. US$) Share (%)
30 Pharmaceutical products 1028.9 21.7
90 Optical, photographic, cinematographic, measuring, checking, medical or surgical instruments and apparatus; parts and accessories 573.8 12.1
85 Electrical machinery and equipment and parts thereof; sound recorders and reproducers; television image and sound recorders and reproducers, parts and accessories of such articles 473.2 10.0
84 Nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery and mechanical appliances; parts thereof 383.8 8.1
87 Vehicles; other than railway or tramway rolling stock, and parts and accessories thereof 320.0 6.7
73 Iron or steel articles 280.8 5.9
10 Cereals 271.9 5.7
63 Textiles, made up articles; sets; worn clothing and worn textile articles; rags 257.2 5.4
72 Iron and steel 219.3 4.6
38 Chemical products n.e.c. 133.0 2.8

The Covid-19 pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic marked a turning point both for the composition and the allocation of China’s aid exports. Aid exports of medical goods surged at the expense of non-medical goods and several advanced economies, such as Germany and the USA, became recipients of masks, respirators, and other personal protective equipment. In 2021, vaccine deliveries dominated aid exports from China.

Chinese medical vs. non-medical aid exports in million US$


Fuchs, Andreas, Lennart Kaplan, Krisztina Kis-Katos, Sebastian Schmidt, Felix Turbanisch, and Feicheng Wang. 2022a. “China’s Aid Exports to Africa and the COVID-19 Pandemic: How Much? Where? What?” PEGNet Policy Brief 27.
———. 2022b. “Mask Wars: Sourcing a Critical Medical Product from China in Times of COVID-19.” GGDC Research Memorandum 194.
———. 2022c. “Tracking Chinese Aid Through China Customs: Darlings and Orphans After the COVID-19 Outbreak.” Kiel Working Papers 2232.