Abstract. In this study, we establish a nested atmospheric inversion system with a focus on China using the Bayesian method. The global surface is separated into 43 regions based on the 22 TransCom large regions, with 13 small regions in China. Monthly CO2 concentrations from 130 GlobalView sites and 3 additional China sites are used in this system. The core component of this system is an atmospheric transport matrix, which is created using the TM5 model with a horizontal resolution of 3° × 2°. The net carbon fluxes over the 43 global land and ocean regions are inverted for the period from 2002 to 2008. The inverted global terrestrial carbon sinks mainly occur in boreal Asia, South and Southeast Asia, eastern America and southern South America. Most China areas appear to be carbon sinks, with strongest carbon sinks located in Northeast China. From 2002 to 2008, the global terrestrial carbon sink has an increasing trend, with the lowest carbon sink in 2002. The inter-annual variation (IAV) of the land sinks shows remarkable correlation with the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO). The terrestrial carbon sinks in China also show an increasing trend. However, the IAV in China is not the same as that of the globe. There is relatively stronger land sink in 2002, lowest sink in 2006, and strongest sink in 2007 in China. This IAV could be reasonably explained with the IAVs of temperature and precipitation in China. The mean global and China terrestrial carbon sinks over the period 2002–2008 are −3.20 ± 0.63 and −0.28 ± 0.18 PgC yr−1, respectively. Considering the carbon emissions in the form of reactive biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs) and from the import of wood and food, we further estimate that China's land sink is about −0.31 PgC yr−1.