UK-China Statistics

A selection of bilateral trade statistics are listed below. We will keep these updated and add to them over time, so you will always have the latest statistics at your fingertips.

Key China Facts

(Source: British Embassy Beijing's China in Numbers September 2012)

  • China is either the 3rd or 4th largest country in the world (depending on definitions of territory), roughly the same size as the United States.
  • At the end of 2011, China's population reached over 1.37 billion, around a fifth of the world's total - made up of 56 ethnic groups, dominated by the Han (91.5%). China's population is likely to be overtaken by India's in 2025.
  • China is the second largest economy in the world in nominal US dollar terms.
  • Over the last 32 years, China has experienced uninterrupted growth averaging 10% per annum.
  • China became the world's largest goods exporter in 2009, ahead of Germany and the US.
  • China is the world's second largest goods importer.
  • China's urbanisation rate increased from 10.6% in 1949 to 51.27% in 2011. By 2050 the urbanisation rate is expected to rise to around 75%.
  • It is estimated that there are around 250 million internal migrant workers in China.
  • In 2011, 177.7 million people (13.3% of the population) were over 60; by 2030 the share is predicted to rise to 25% and by 2050, to 31%.

UK-China Bilateral Statistics

(Source: British Embassy Beijing)

Trade and Investment

  • UK exports to China in 2011 were £13.78 billion (including goods, services and other income e.g. remittances), up 17.6% on 2010. (Source: Office for National Statistics UK)
  • UK exported goods to China in 2011 were £8.77 billion. This is up by 21.4% from the previous year. (Source: HMRC)
  • UK exports of service in 2011 were £3.2 billion, up by 19.5% from the previous year. China is the 14th market for UK service exports, 4 places up from the previous year. UK exports of goods and services in 2011 were £12.5 billion, up by 21.3% from the previous year. (Source: Office for National Statistics UK)
  • From January to May 2012 the UK exported £3.98 billion worth of goods to China.  This is up by 21% from the same period in 2011. Since January 2012, China has risen from 9th place to 7th place in the UK’s most important export markets by value (overtaking Italy and Spain). Imports, on the other hand, were up 5% at £11.70 billion, which was one down from 5th to 4th place. This, however, suggests a re-balancing of trade relationship may be beginning to take place. (Source: HMRC)
  • The value of UK goods exports to China from January to May of 2012 ranked 3rd among EU countries, after Germany and France.  This is one place up from the same period last year (as we have overtaken Italy).  (Source:  MOFCOM)
  • At the end of 2011, UK was the largest EU investor to China, with a cumulated actual direct investment value of £11.70 billion. UK’s direct investment to China from January to May 2012 was £282 million, the second largest EU investor to China after Germany. (Source:  MOFCOM)
  • In 2010, Chinese investment stock in the UK was £28.8bn. (Source: Office for National Statistics UK)
  • At the end of 2010, direct investment from China to the UK in stock, was £852 million, ranking 4th among the EU after Luxemburg, Sweden and Germany. Figures for 2011 yet to be released.  (Source:  2010 Statistical Bulletin of China’s Outward Foreign Direct Investment, jointly published by MOFCOM, NBS and SAFE)
  • At the end of May 2012, there were 8 Chinese companies on the London Stock Exchange main market, and 45 companies listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM). (Source: London Stock Exchange)  

Science and Innovation

  • China co-authors more scientific research paper with the UK than with any other country except the US and Japan, jointly publishing almost 2,500 science papers a year.


  • The UK has more joint programmes with Chinese higher education institutions, more than any other country (131 in June 2011). (Source: British Council)
  • In 2009/10 there were 95,000 Chinese students in the UK (including from Hong Kong), that number has now risen to over 100,000 (over 70,000 for mainland only).  (Source: British Council)
  • The UK already has a relatively high proportion of overseas students within the entire student body (17.7%) and Chinese students make up the largest national group (14% of the total and 19% of the non-EU total). (Source: British Council)
  • We have the same proportion of our own higher education population studying in China (3,300 students) as mainland China has in the UK [Ranked 16th - this does not include students visiting on short term language and culture courses]. (Source: British Council)
  • Over 500 British schools now offer Mandarin classes. (Source: British Council)
  • There are approximately 300 million consumers of English language training, and over 50,000 English language training companies in China (Source: British Council)
  • In 2010 there were 240 million learners of English in China (54 million Primary; 80 million Secondary; 31 million Tertiary; and, 75 million Extra language provision). (Source: British Council market research, Feb 2010)


  • Over 575,000 British nationals visited mainland China in 2010 (Source: National Tourism Administration)
  • Around 127,000 Chinese tourists visited the UK in 2010 [France, Italy and Germany each attracted between 500,000 and 700,000]. (Source: SOAS)
  • In 2010, China's outbound tourists spent £30.4 billion ($48.7 billion) on their travels worldwide, up 14 percent on the previous year and on track to reach 34.8 billion this year.
  • Chinese tourists spend an average £202 a day on trips to Europe, and can spend more than £600 in one shopping trip, more than Russian, Arab or Japanese travellers (Source: Richard Ellis consultancy)
  • 30 percent of Burberry’s sales in its UK stores were to Chinese customers (Source: Burberry)
  • Chinese shoppers spent £200 million in the Bond Street area in 2010, representing a 155 percent rise on the previous year. (Source: London Luxury)

Regional links:

  • By the end of 2010, there were 43 sister city (province, county, district) relationships between the UK and China.

Discover more about opportunities for UK companies in China's regional cities.