The trade, education, and human connections between China and Ukraine—in infographics
According to China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, over 3,000 Chinese nationals have escaped from Ukraine into neighboring countries since evacuations began on March 1. Many of them are accompanied by Ukrainian spouses and children, as per a March 2 notice from the Chinese embassy that allowed evacuees to bring along immediate family members of other nationalities.
Back home, many Chinese have watched news of the war in Ukraine with both empathy and curiosity, occasionally expressing surprise at the number of Chinese students, businesspeople, and Chinese-Ukrainian families in the country. Some netizens have been criticized for making sexualized “crotch nationalist” comments about wanting to marry female Ukrainian refugees, while others have called for peace. Major Chinese news outlets and magazines have carried interviews with a diverse cross-section of Chinese expatriates and travelers in Ukraine on their experiences of the past week: from architecture students, to workers in amber mines, to parents waiting to pick up their infant from surrogate mothers.
Who are Ukraine’s Chinese diaspora? Some of the earliest Chinese to migrate to Ukraine in the modern era were part of the Chinese Labor Corps hired by the Russian Empire, which needed workers to staff factories, build railroads, and labor in mines while its own subjects were fighting in World War I. The post-1980s reform period also saw laid-off factory workers from China’s Northeast take the Trans-Siberian Railway to seek new opportunities in Eastern Europe, later followed by traders from eastern China. Ukrainian universities are well-regarded in China, especially in fields like medicine and music, and in the last 20 years trade relations and tourism have increased between the two countries—though some of these numbers have fallen off in recent years due to prolonged conflict in Ukraine.
These infographics show the multitudes of connections between China and Ukraine, including trade, education, tourism, and families:
Infographics by Nicoco Chan
Research by Hatty Liu, Alex Colville, Liu Jue (刘珏), Tan Yunfei (谭云飞), Siyi Chu (褚司怡), Yang Tingting (杨婷婷), and Dragos C. Cacio. Written and edited by Hatty Liu.
Alison Motluck, “Ukraine’s Surrogacy Industry Has Put Women in Impossible Positions.” The Atlantic. March 1, 2022
“Attractions in Ukraine (热门景点).” Mafengwo. March 3, 2022
“Celebrate the 15th Anniversary of China-Ukraine Diplomatic Ties: To Strengthen Friendship and Cooperation and Join Hands to Build a Wonderful Future (加强友好合作 共创美好未来 纪念中国与乌克兰建交15周年).” Embassy of PRC in Ukraine. January 19, 2007
“Chinese Actress ‘Abandons’ Surrogate Babies in US, Sparking Huge Online Condemnation of Surrogacy.” Global Times. January 20, 2021
“How Many Chinese Are There in Ukraine (在乌克兰有多少中国人 中国人在乌克兰人数多少).” CCTV News. February 25, 2022
“IOM Scales Up Response to Ukraine Crisis and Appeals for Inclusive Protection Measures.” International Organization of Migration. March 1, 2022
Reuters Beijing, “Factbox-China Business and Economic Interests in Ukraine.” Yahoo Finance. February 23, 2022
Pál Nyiri, Chinese in Eastern Europe and Russia: A Middleman Minority in a Transnational Era. Tayler & Francis, 2007
Patrick Boehler, “Q&A: The Fates of 200,000 Chinese Workers in Russia During the First World War.” South China Morning Post. August 7, 2014
“Popular Destinations (热门目的地).” Mafengwo. March 3, 2022
Ukrainian Association of Sinologists, “Chinese-Ukrainian Marriages,” Ukraine-China Magazine, 2019 Issue 3
“Ukrainian tourism sector seizes opportunities to win Chinese market.” China Daily. March 25, 2017
Xiao Yawen, Liu Yupeng, and Zhang Xueting, “Overseas Students Trapped in Ukraine by the War, Russian Media Reports: About 76,500 Students from 155 Countries and Regions Are Studying in Ukraine (乌克兰战局困住多国留学生，俄媒：155个国家与地区约7.65万人在乌学习).” Global Times. February 28, 2022