The last 30 years have seen an international recognition by both academics and governments of the need to measure the marine economy. However both the barriers of history and communication have led to a lack of recognition of the steps taken in China to measure its marine economy. Statistics on the marine economy are an important foundation for achieving rationally based development and efficient management of the marine economy. This paper explains developments in the Chinese marine economic statistical system over the past 20 years in an all-round and systematic way and summarizes the developmental features. Data gathering has gone from dispersed efforts to a concentrated approach, increasing from partial coverage of industry categories to comprehensive statistics and transitioning to more institutionalized management of marine economic statistics. The practical significance of these developments is an improved national data set for the marine economy and policy makers that will develop in the future. Annual Statistical Yearbooks are available in English and enable researchers outside China to access statistical data on one of the world's largest marine economies.