China’s Car Exports Falling

That said, the major issue in China’s foreign relations isn’t love and understanding (which doesn’t mean that losing face wouldn’t hurt). So long as official boycotts of Chinese goods aren’t on the cards – and the only Turkish minister who called for one had only expressed his personal view – there may be Chinese hurt feelings, but the oil keeps will keep coming in – and China, contrary to most countries, does keep importing lots of it. Iran’s, Oman’s, and Kuwait’s crude oil exports to China all rose per May this year, according to – and they will all try to keep their business. Chinese exports to Muslim countries may be a different story, but the current declines can hardly be attributed to 7-5. Let’s take a look at the Chinese car industry and its exports, for example. According to, China exported only 61,000 vehicles in the first quarter of 2009, a decline of 62% from the previous year.

Chinese Car, Syrian Characteristics

Chinese Car, Syrian Characteristics

Cars made in China may go almost unnoticed in most of Europe (and North America, I guess), but you do see a lot of them in Syria, which was among the four countries visited by Wu Sike (吴思科), China’s special representative for the Middle East, late in July and earlier this month. In 2006, the major export markets for the Chinese car industry were Russia, Iran, Belgium, Syria, Algeria, Kazakhstan, Angola, Vietnam, Ukraine, and Iraq (the countries written in bold letters are among the four visited by special representative Wu). The 2006 numbers in detail, according to, were as follows:

Rank Country Vehicles in 1,000 USD
1. Russia 38,051 350,030
2. Iran 10,606 237,710
3. Belgium 18,147 197,730
4. Syria 51,662 191,560
5. Algeria 20,201 156,950
6. Kazakhstan 5,703 135,520
7. Angola 6,966 131,540
8. Vietnam 14,491 99,650
9. Ukraine 10,119 82,800
10. Iraq 13,618 77,920

The average price paid per car varies strongly from country to country.

According to the same source, exports to Syria showed a small decline in 2007, while exports to Russia rose to 106,000 vehicles – that would be 17.3 per cent of China’s total automobile exports. Major markets in 2007, besides Russia, were Syria, Ukraine, South Africa, Algeria, Vietnam, Iran, and Venezuela.

Exports to Russia went down in 2008, with only 77,000 vehicles. Especially in the fourth quarter, there were hardly any exports to Russia. Exports to Africa, Latin America and ASEAN countries kept rising, but the trend in Russian exports is pointing downward this year, too.

Statistics for the first half of 2009 are rather fragmentary on the internet, but Changan Global Sales Company‘s general manager is quoted as saying that he sees problems on all of the industry’s (or Changan’s) existing markets. The China Automobile Industry Association reportedly recorded automotive exports dropping by 62 per cent during the first quarter this year, compared to the same period [last year]. As far as Zhejiang province’s carmakers [the source seems to refer to the first four months of this year] are concerned, their exports to Syria fell by more than half, according to this source which claims to quote the Zhejiang Ministry of Commerce.

China’s automotive companies may not abandon the roads for the skies yet, but if China’s propaganda has it right, industry insiders expect China to become the pacemaker of a new-energy automobile industry in the future thanks to strong policies from the government and a full industrial chain.

That said, it probably depends on which industry insiders you ask. The website is less euphoric than the Global Times.


在叙利亚看中国车:东方之子售3.7万美元,, March 20, 2005

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