About the Data

ChinaMed INDEX

The ChinaMed INDEX quantifies China’s interest in economic, military, and diplomatic cooperation with a given country from a combination of various data sources.

The level of interest in developing economic cooperation is measured by taking into consideration the number of Chinese contract workers and the value of Chinese foreign direct investments (stock) in a given country. This data source may be seen below.

The level of interest in developing military cooperation is measured by taking into consideration the number of visits of members of the Communist Party's Central Military Commission to a certain country and “friendly visits” (i.e. not simply stops for replenishment) of the Chinese Navy as reported by China Vitae and Chinese media.

The level of interest in developing diplomatic cooperation is measured by taking into consideration the number of visits of members of the Political Bureau of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee and its Standing Committee, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and State Councilors to a certain country as reported by China Vitae and Chinese media.

The data for some countries are only partially available.

Trade

Data regarding Chinese imports from and exports to the countries we include in the Mediterranean region come from the International Trade Center (ITC)’s Trade Map. The annually released data is based on COMTRADE, the world’s largest trade database maintained by the United Nations Statistics Division, with monthly or quarterly data being collected by ITC from national custom offices or regional organizations.

It is important to keep in mind that export statistics rarely line up exactly with the import statistics of partner countries. The main reasons for this include:

• Trade systems: some countries use the special trade system (which excludes trade carried out in free zones), some others use the general trade system (which includes free zones).

• Quantity measurement: some countries report gross weights and some others report net weights.

• Time lag: discrepancies may result if exports are registered in one year and the corresponding imports in the following year.

• Misallocation of a partner country or a product can occur for a reporting country. This only affects bilateral trade or respectively detailed product levels, not the overall trade.

• Country confidentiality (recorded as "Area Nes"; see Area Nes in the glossary) may have a direct impact on the overall discrepancies if the value of that flow is published as total trade rather than broken down by partner. Product confidentiality affects the results at detailed levels of the commodity nomenclature but have no impact, however, on the overall mutual trade statistics.

• Re-exports (see the glossary about Re-exports) or transit may be taken into account by some countries. 

Visit the FAQ page of the ITC’s website to learn more about these data.

The data for some countries are only partially available.

Ranking as trade partner

The data regarding China’s ranking as trade partner of the countries we include in the Mediterranean region have been extrapolated from the Observatory of Economic Complexity, which relies on the BACI International Trade Database. The OEC is a tool that allows users to quickly compose a visual narrative about countries and the products they exchange. The project was conducted at the MIT Media Lab Macro Connections group (now Collective Learning).

The data for some countries are only partially available.

Chinese energy imports and oil/gas producing countries’ dependency on the Chinese energy market

Data on Chinese energy imports is also sourced from the Trade Map (see above). The values presented in the charts have been calculated by summing up those corresponding to Chinese imports, the six-digit harmonized system (HS) product codes of which are HS2709 (petroleum oil and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude) and HS2711 (petroleum gases and other gaseous hydrocarbons).

The dependency of oil/gas producing countries is calculated by dividing the value of their oil and/or gas exports to China by the total of their oil and/or gas exports. 

The data reported by Trade Map are gathered from national customs authorities. Unfortunately, some key energy producing countries such as Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and others either do not provide these data or do so only partially. The latest systematic survey of countries’ reporting methods was carried out by the United Nations Statistics Division in 2006. The results can be found here. With a few exceptions, the majority of the countries in North Africa and the Middle East only follow a small number of the recommendations issued by the United Nations Statistics Division. Therefore, the use of these data must tempered with the understanding that possible errors and inaccuracies do exist.

The data for some countries are only partially available.

Contracts awarded to Chinese companies and number of Chinese contract workers

Data regarding the value of the contracts awarded to Chinese companies and number of Chinese contract workers are taken from the China Trade and External Economic Statistical Yearbooks issued by the Trade and External Economic Statistics Bureau of the National Bureau of Statistics of China.

Beginning in 2005, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce divided the contracts that can be awarded to Chinese companies into three different categories:

1. Contracts for labor services, which are defined as “the provision and management of labor contracted for any project abroad”. 

2. Design and consulting, which “comprise topographic surveying, geological prospecting, development zone programming, provision of documents, blueprint, materials on production process, technical consultation, project feasibility studies and evaluation, personnel training, etc.”

3. Engineering projects, which include the construction of bridges, railways, ports, and any other infrastructure a Chinese company can be contracted to build. 

Unfortunately, data regarding labor services as well as design and consulting services are available only until 2010 and 2008, respectively. Only those regarding engineering projects financed with both Chinese and foreign capital, including both aid and loans, and undertaken by Chinese contractors are still regularly updated every year.

Chinese sources do not shed light on how these data are collected. Both in the case of the value of the contracts and the number of workers sent by Chinese companies, the data presented in the charts are the aggregate value of all the data available. It goes without saying that they can only be seen as a conservative estimate. 

The data for some countries are only partially available.

Chinese foreign direct investments

The data of Chinese foreign direct investments (FDI) in the countries we include in the Mediterranean region come from the Statistical Bulletins of China’s Outward Foreign Direct Investment published every year by China’s Ministry of Commerce, the National Bureau of Statistics, and the State Administration of Foreign Exchange. They can be found here (in Chinese). Further information about the reporting system used by China’s Ministry of Commerce can be found here (in Chinese).

The data for some countries are only partially available.

Peacekeeping operations

The data regarding Chinese contributions to peacekeeping operations in terms of troops, police officers, military observers, and staff officers come from the official United Nations peacekeeping database. The number of staff officers started being reported only in 2017.
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