Project description

This is the first visual story of its kind to explain the historical context of the trade war and provide a holistic view of the U.S.-China trade relationship at once in an easy-to-understand way.

What makes this project innovative?

The scope of this project sets it apart. We started with more than 50 years of trade data for each country, for every individual item possible. From this large set of data we had to distill a meaningful story on the U.S.-China trade relationship, as well as a story of China’s global impact on international trade and its dominance over competitors. It’s a successful showcase of telling an extremely complex story with very straightforward visuals and intuitive navigation. A great deal of work went into building and testing a strategy to keep readers focused and motivated through the narrative. We had to make the experience as smooth as possible and use a consistent set of visual keys to help our readers digest this wealth of information.

What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?

The great success story of this project was collaboration. The work was distributed across teams on three continents and there was seamless integration with the editing workflow. By external measures, this piece produced above-average engagement time and was circulated widely on social media as a model for visual storytelling.

Source and methodology

U.N. Comtrade (share and value in U.S. imports); U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (Consumer Price Index, All Urban Consumers; Current Employment Statistics Survey); U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (Real Personal Consumption Expenditures indexes); ISL Port Data Base (port volume handled); Mercator Insititute for China Studies (one belt one road infrastructure); International Federation of Robotics (shipments of industrial robots)

Technologies Used

We used R and node.js for data acquisition, cleaning and analysis. We used d3.js, Mapbox.js and GLSL shaders to create visually intriguing and clean charts.

Project members

Reporting Natasha Khan, Anthony DeBarros Graphics, design and development Yaryna Serkez and Yasufumi Saito Illustrations Jessica Kuronen



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