The timber trade between China and Africa has increased dramatically in the last decade, raising concerns over forest conservation in Africa. In order to improve the governance and sustainability of China–Africa timber trade, we need to understand its scale and identify possible problems associated with it. This study provides an in-depth analysis of the most recent data for the trade between China and four African countries. The study is in two parts. First, we analyse Chinese customs data and Chinese data on UN Comtrade, to understand the basic situation of the China–Africa timber trade, its product composition and developing trends. Second, we explore the extent of data discrepancy.