China’s Top 10 Imports

China's Top 10 Imports


The People’s Republic of China imported US$1.841 trillion worth of goods from around the globe in 2017. That dollar amount reflects a -5.6% slowdown since 2013 but a 15.9% gain from 2016 to 2017.

From January to March 2018, goods imported into China totaled $497.3 billion. This three-month metric puts Chinese imports on track for an annualized $1.989 trillion estimated for all 2018.

From a continental perspective, 55.9% of China’s total imports by value in 2017 were purchased from other Asian countries. European trade partners accounted for 17.7% of imported goods bought by China while 10.2% worth originated from North America. Smaller percentage of overall Chinese imports came from Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (6.2%), Australia and other Oceanian sources (5.8%) and Africa (4%).

Given China’s population of 1.379 billion people, its total $1.841 trillion in 2017 imports translates to roughly $1,350 in yearly product demand from every person in the country.

China’s Top 10 Imports

Top 10

The following product groups represent the highest dollar value in China’s import purchases during 2017. Also shown is the percentage share each product category represents in terms of overall imports into China.

  1. Electrical machinery, equipment: US$455.5 billion (24.7% of total Chinese imports)
  2. Mineral fuels including oil: $247.6 billion (13.4%)
  3. Machinery including computers: $169.8 billion (9.2%)
  4. Ores, slag, ash: $125.4 billion (6.8%)
  5. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $97.4 billion (5.3%)
  6. Vehicles: $79.2 billion (4.3%)
  7. Plastics, plastic articles: $68.9 billion (3.7%)
  8. Organic chemicals: $55.8 billion (3%)
  9. Oil seeds: $44.5 billion (2.4%)
  10. Copper: $41.2 billion (2.2%)

Note that the results listed above are at the categorized two-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. For a more detailed view of imported goods at the four-digit HTS code level, see the section Searchable List of China’s Most Valuable Import Products further down near the bottom of this article or under the adjacent product folder tabs.

China’s top 10 imports account for three-quarters (75.2%) of the overall value of its product purchases from other countries.

Imported mineral fuels including oil had the fastest-growing increase in value among the top 10 import categories, up 40.2% from 2016 to 2017.

In second place for expanding import purchases by China was the ores, slag and ash category via a 32.7% increase, trailed by Chinese imports of organic chemicals’ 27% gain and the 23.9% boost in copper imports.

The slowest improver among China’s top import categories was optical, technical and medical apparatus via a 5.1% year-over-year acceleration.

Also see the section Searchable List of China’s Most Valuable Import Products further down near the bottom of this article.


In 2017, Chinese importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of electrical products including consumer electronics:

  1. Integrated circuits/microassemblies: US$258.6 billion (up 13.6% from 2016)
  2. Phone system devices including smartphones: $47.8 billion (up 4.1%)
  3. Solar power diodes/semi-conductors: $27.9 billion (up 0.02%)
  4. Lower-voltage switches, fuses: $15.5 billion (up 9.2%)
  5. TV/radio/radar device parts: $12.3 billion (up 30.9%)
  6. Printed circuits: $11.6 billion (up 12.4%)
  7. Electrical converters/power units: $11.1 billion (up 2.9%)
  8. Electrical capacitators: $8.7 billion (up 8.1%)
  9. Insulated wire/cable: $5.3 billion (up 7.2%)
  10. Unrecorded sound media: $5.1 billion (down -0.9%)

Among these import subcategories, China’s purchases of TV, radio or radar device parts (up 30.9%), integrated circuits or microassemblies (up 13.6%) and printed circuits (up 12.4%) grew at the fastest pace from 2016 to 2017.

These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported electronics among Chinese businesses and consumers.


In 2017, Chinese importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of mineral fuels-related products:

  1. Crude oil: US$162.2 billion (up 39% from 2016)
  2. Petroleum gases: $33 billion (up 43.5%)
  3. Coal, solid fuels made from coal: $18.5 billion (up 60.9%)
  4. Processed petroleum oils: $14.5 billion (up 29.7%)
  5. Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation): $10.3 billion (up 18.5%)
  6. Lignite: $4.1 billion (up 53.7%)
  7. Petroleum oil residues: $2.5 billion (up 78.3%)
  8. Asphalt/petroleum bitumen mixes: $1.9 billion (up 103.8%)
  9. Electrical energy: $310.3 million (down -3%)
  10. Petroleum jelly, mineral waxes: $143 million (up 18.9%)

Among these import subcategories, China’s purchases of asphalt or petroleum bitumen mixes (up 103.8%), petroleum oil residues (up 78.3%) and coal including solid fuels made from coal (up 60.9%) grew at the fastest pace from 2016 to 2017.

These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported fossil fuel among Chinese businesses and consumers.


In 2017, Chinese importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of machines including computers:

  1. Computers, optical readers: US$26 billion (up 1% from 2016)
  2. Machinery for making semi-conductors: $19.6 billion (up 40%)
  3. Computer parts, accessories: $14.7 billion (up 10.3%)
  4. Miscellaneous machinery: $12.4 billion (up 29.9%)
  5. Taps, valves, similar appliances: $7.7 billion (up 9.9%)
  6. Printing machinery: $7.7 billion (up 6.3%)
  7. Turbo-jets: $6.6 billion (up 15.5%)
  8. Transmission shafts, gears, clutches: $5.4 billion (up 18.2%)
  9. Air or vacuum pumps: $5.2 billion (up 7.5%)
  10. Liquid pumps and elevators: $4.3 billion (up 9.5%)

Among these import subcategories, China’s purchases of machinery for making semi-conductors (up 40%), miscellaneous machinery (up 29.9%) and transmission shafts, gears or clutches (up 18.2%) grew at the fastest pace from 2016 to 2017.

These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported machinery among Chinese businesses and consumers.


In 2017, Chinese importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of ores, slag or ash:

  1. Iron ores, concentrates: US$76.2 billion (up 31.2% from 2016)
  2. Copper ores, concentrates: $26.1 billion (up 25%)
  3. Manganese ores, concentrates: $4 billion (up 92.7%)
  4. Aluminum ores, concentrates: $3.5 billion (up 39.5%)
  5. Chromium ores, concentrates: $3.4 billion (up 112.8%)
  6. Precious metal ores, concentrates: $3 billion (up 13.3%)
  7. Zinc ores, concentrates: $2.2 billion (up 72.7%)
  8. Nickel ores, concentrates: $2.1 billion (up 37.1%)
  9. Lead ores, concentrates: $1.7 billion (up 15.8%)
  10. Tin ores, concentrates: $923.2 million (up 13.3%)

Among these import subcategories, China’s purchases of chromium ores or concentrates (up 112.8%), manganese ores or concentrates (up 92.7%) and zinc ores or concentrates (up 72.7%) grew at the fastest pace from 2016 to 2017.

These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported ores and concentrates among Chinese businesses and consumers.


Searchable List of China’s Most Valuable Import Products

At the more granular four-digit HTS code level, the top Chinese import products are electronic circuits and microassemblies, crude oil, iron, cars, mobile phones then soya beans.

The following searchable table displays 200 of China’s most in-demand imported goods during 2017. Shown beside each product label is its total import value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2016.

RankChinese Import Product2017 Value (US$)Change
1Integrated circuits/microassemblies$258.6 billion+13.6%
2Crude oil$162.2 billion+39%
3Iron ores, concentrates$76.2 billion+31.2%
4Cars$49.9 billion+13.5%
5Phone system devices including smartphones $47.8 billion+4.1%
6Soya beans$39.6 billion+16.6%
7Liquid crystal/laser/optical tools$37.2 billion-2.1%
8Petroleum gases$33 billion+43.5%
9Solar power diodes/semi-conductors$27.9 billion+0.02%
10Automobile parts/accessories$27.1 billion+6.3%
11Copper ores, concentrates$26.1 billion+25%
12Computers, optical readers$26 billion+1%
13Aircraft, spacecraft$23.7 billion+16.1%
14Refined copper, unwrought alloys$20.6 billion+13.8%
15Cyclic hydrocarbons$19.8 billion+27%
16Machinery for making semi-conductors$19.6 billion+40%
17Coal, solid fuels made from coal$18.5 billion+60.9%
18Medication mixes in dosage$17.2 billion+21.8%
19Ethylene polymers$16.9 billion+20.6%
20Lower-voltage switches, fuses$15.5 billion+9.2%
21Computer parts, accessories$14.7 billion+10.3%
22Processed petroleum oils$14.5 billion+29.7%
23Miscellaneous machinery$12.4 billion+29.9%
24TV/radio/radar device parts$12.3 billion+30.9%
25Acyclic alcohols$11.8 billion+39.5%
26Chemical woodpulp (non-dissolving)$11.8 billion+25.5%
27Printed circuits$11.6 billion+12.4%
28Electrical converters/power units$11.1 billion+2.9%
29Other measuring/testing machines$11 billion+12.5%
30Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation)$10.3 billion+18.5%
31Sawn wood$10.1 billion+23.7%
32Rough wood$9.9 billion+22.8%
33Copper waste, scrap$9.2 billion+48.2%
34Electrical capacitators$8.7 billion+8.1%
35Polyacetal/ether/carbonates$8.6 billion+14.3%
36Synthetic rubber$8.5 billion+58.2%
37Physical/chemical analysis tools$7.9 billion+9.4%
38Diamonds (unmounted/unset)$7.9 billion+2.8%
39Taps, valves, similar appliances$7.7 billion+9.9%
40Printing machinery$7.7 billion+6.3%
41Electro-medical equip (e.g. xrays)$7.4 billion+9.5%
42Optical fiber cables, sheets, plates$7.4 billion+13.6%
43Blood fractions (including antisera)$6.9 billion+22.6%
44Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips$6.8 billion+7.1%
45Turbo-jets$6.6 billion+15.5%
46Iron ferroalloys$6.5 billion+40.2%
47Propylene/olefin polymers$6.4 billion+9.2%
48Acyclic hydrocarbons$6.2 billion+39.5%
49Chemical industry products/residuals$6.1 billion+4.6%
50Paper/paperboard waste, scrap$5.9 billion+17.8%
51Styrene polymers$5.8 billion+25.1%
52Beauty/makeup/skin care preparations$5.8 billion+45.1%
53Transmission shafts, gears, clutches$5.4 billion+18.2%
54Insulated wire/cable$5.3 billion+7.2%
55Air or vacuum pumps$5.2 billion+7.5%
56Unrecorded sound media$5.1 billion-0.9%
57Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels$5.1 billion+6%
58Yarn (85%+ cotton)$5.1 billion+7.2%
59Regulate/control instruments$5 billion+11.5%
60Natural rubber$4.9 billion+46.6%
61Unrefined copper$4.8 billion+39.4%
62Electrical machinery$4.8 billion+9.2%
63Microphones/headphones/amps$4.7 billion+22.5%
64TV receiver/transmit/digital cameras$4.7 billion-18.5%
65Flour/meal/starch/malt extract food preparations$4.5 billion+29.4%
66Liquid pumps and elevators$4.3 billion+9.5%
67Electric storage batteries$4.1 billion+6.5%
68Lignite$4.1 billion+53.7%
69Electric circuit parts, fuses, switches$4 billion+13.5%
70Centrifuges, filters and purifiers$4 billion+12.5%
71Manganese ores, concentrates$4 billion+92.7%
72Electric motors, generators$3.9 billion+4.1%
73Lenses, prisms, mirrors$3.8 billion+20.5%
74Whole fish (frozen)$3.7 billion+14.8%
75Piston engine parts$3.7 billion+13.3%
76Ball, roller bearings$3.6 billion+13.7%
77Metal-working machinery$3.5 billion+22.2%
78Palm oil$3.5 billion+22%
79Aluminum ores, concentrates$3.5 billion+39.5%
80Chromium ores, concentrates$3.4 billion+112.8%
81Miscellaneous plastic items$3.4 billion+9.5%
82Oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers$3.3 billion-1.6%
83X-ray equipment$3.3 billion+4.2%
84Orthopedic appliances$3.3 billion+12.6%
85Plastics waste, scrap$3.3 billion-11.8%
86Iron and steel screws, bolts, nuts, washers$3.1 billion+6.2%
87Frozen beef$3 billion+21.7%
88Rubber/plastic article making machines$3 billion+29%
89Precious metal ores, concentrates$3 billion+13.3%
90Copper foil$2.9 billion+21.5%
91Platinum (unwrought)$2.9 billion+9.1%
92Hydrogen, rare gases$2.9 billion+11.3%
93Aluminum waste, scrap$2.8 billion+28.5%
94Wine $2.8 billion+18.2%
95Self-adhesive plastic in rolls$2.8 billion+5.2%
96Wool (uncarded, uncombed)$2.7 billion+17.3%
97Heterocyclics, nucleic acids$2.7 billion+27.8%
98Engines (diesel)$2.7 billion+25.5%
99Nickel (unwrought)$2.6 billion-24.9%
100Lifting/loading machinery$2.6 billion+15.7%
101Chemical woodpulp (dissolving)$2.5 billion+20.6%
102Petroleum oil residues$2.5 billion+78.3%
103Crustaceans (including lobsters)$2.5 billion+17.9%
104Liquid/gas checking instruments$2.5 billion+9.6%
105Polyamides$2.5 billion+7.6%
106Inedible meat flour$2.4 billion+36.7%
107Flat-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products (plated/coated)$2.4 billion+4.9%
108Zinc (unwrought)$2.4 billion+118.6%
109Prepared glues, adhesives$2.3 billion+10.4%
110Acrylic polymers$2.3 billion+21.6%
111Miscellaneous iron or steel items$2.3 billion+7.1%
112Cases, handbags, wallets$2.3 billion+21.1%
113Vulcanized rubber items$2.3 billion+7.4%
114Electrical lighting/signaling equpment, defrosters$2.2 billion+13.6%
115Zinc ores, concentrates$2.2 billion+72.7%
116Aircraft parts$2.2 billion+1.4%
117Swine meat$2.2 billion-30.4%
118Cobalt$2.2 billion+118.6%
119Concentrated/sweetened milk, cream$2.2 billion+46.1%
120Red meat offal$2.2 billion-13.3%
121Cotton (uncarded, uncombed)$2.2 billion+39.6%
122Electrical resistors$2.2 billion-5.7%
123Cast/rolled glass in sheets$2.2 billion+39.3%
124Rape/colza seeds$2.2 billion+45.1%
125Piston engines$2.1 billion-1.6%
126Temperature-change machines$2.1 billion-0.8%
127Nickel ores, concentrates$2.1 billion+37.1%
128Hot-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products$2.1 billion+17.1%
129Flat-rolled other alloy steel products$2 billion+15%
130Lubricant preparations$2 billion+10.6%
131Radioactive chemical elements$2 billion-4.4%
132Miscellaneous machine electrical parts$1.9 billion+3.6%
133Wrist/pocket watches (no precious metal case)$1.9 billion+23.9%
134Fuel wood, wood chips, sawdust$1.9 billion-1.5%
135Machinery parts$1.9 billion+16.9%
136Miscellaneous fruits (fresh)$1.9 billion+1.1%
137Asphalt/petroleum bitumen mixes$1.9 billion+103.8%
138Other food preparations$1.8 billion+24.2%
139Other machine parts, accessories$1.8 billion+23.8%
140Rice$1.8 billion+15.2%
141Barley$1.8 billion+59.1%
142Bovine/equine rawhides, skins$1.8 billion-1.6%
143Potassic fertilizers$1.8 billion+0.2%
144Monument/building stone including marble$1.7 billion+41.2%
145Lead ores, concentrates$1.7 billion+15.8%
146Interchangeable hand/machine tools$1.7 billion+14.3%
147Miscellaneous engines, motors$1.7 billion+21.5%
148Amino-resins$1.7 billion+30.6%
149Spray/dispersing mechanical appliances$1.7 billion+10.1%
150Other animal leather$1.6 billion-3.8%
151Initiators/accelerators, catalytic preps$1.6 billion+32.5%
152Photographic chemicals$1.6 billion+10.5%
153Seats (excluding barber/dentist chairs)$1.5 billion+11%
154Other diagnostic/lab reagents$1.5 billion+6.7%
155Vinyl chloride polymers$1.5 billion+17.9%
156 Dishwashing, clean/dry/fill machines $1.5 billion+6.4%
157Footwear (textile)$1.5 billion+37.6%
158Other organic cleaning preparations$1.5 billion+13.7%
159Sweet potatoes, similar roots/tubers$1.4 billion+2.3%
160Sanitary towels, baby napkins/liners$1.4 billion+8.4%
161Polycarboxylic acids$1.4 billion+24.9%
162Footwear (leather)$1.4 billion+6.9%
163Flat-rolled stainless steel items$1.4 billion+57.2%
164Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips$1.4 billion+8.2%
165Synthetic yarn woven fabrics$1.4 billion-0.5%
166Bovine/equine leather$1.4 billion-0.6%
167Silver (unwrought)$1.4 billion+67.3%
168Chemicals used in electronics$1.3 billion+20.8%
169Machine-tool for metal$1.3 billion+6%
170Industrial fatty acids and alcohols$1.3 billion+17.2%
171Cold-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products$1.3 billion+13%
172Nickel matte, oxide sinters$1.3 billion+50.8%
173Miscellaneous furniture$1.3 billion+24.9%
174Synthetic filament yarn$1.2 billion+5.9%
175Iron or steel scrap$1.2 billion+32.9%
176Non-sublimed sulphur$1.2 billion+6.6%
177Plastic packing goods, lids, caps$1.2 billion+2%
178Ethers$1.2 billion+7.7%
179Heavy machinery (bulldozers, excavators, road rollers)$1.2 billion+78.4%
180Unmanufactured tobacco, tobacco waste$1.2 billion+7.1%
181Moulding boxes/base$1.2 billion+1.3%
182Metal soldering/hot-spray equipment$1.2 billion+32.3%
183Bent, edgeworked glass$1.2 billion+0.3%
184Material removal machine-tools$1.2 billion+37.5%
185Aluminum oxide/hydroxide$1.2 billion+24.8%
186Coated paper$1.2 billion+9.6%
187Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs)$1.2 billion+29.6%
188Copper plates, sheets, strips$1.2 billion+27%
189Connector/insulating parts$1.1 billion+21.1%
190Electric water heaters, hair dryers$1.1 billion+28.8%
191Anti-knock/oxidation/gum inhibitors$1.1 billion+2.7%
192Sugar (cane or beet)$1.1 billion-7.9%
193Phenols/phenol-alcohols$1.1 billion+35.9%
194Electric ignition/start equipment$1.1 billion+1.2%
195Coconut/palm/babassu oil$1.1 billion+21.8%
196Refrigerators, freezers$1.1 billion+13.1%
197Moluscs$1 billion+13.5%
198Wheat$1 billion+28.8%
199Poultry meat$1 billion-19.7%
200Plastic tubes, pipes, fittings$1 billion+12.9%

These 200 imported goods were worth a subtotal of US$1.581 trillion or 85.9% by value for all products imported into the People’s Republic during 2017.

See also China’s Top 10 Exports, China’s Top Trading Partners, Top Chinese Trade Balances and China’s Top 10 Major Export Companies

Research Sources:
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on August 8, 2018

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on August 8, 2018

Trade Map, International Trade Centre, Accessed on August 8, 2018