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China’s Global Shipping Connectivity: Internal and External Dynamics in the Contemporary Era (1890–2016)

Ducruet, Cesar, Wang, Liehui
Chinese geographical science 2018 v.28 no.2 pp. 202-216
cities, politics, ships, trade, China
China’s global shipping connectivity had been somewhat overlooked as the bulk of related studies predominantly focused on the throughput volume of its own port cities. This article tackles such lacunae by providing a relational perspective based on the extraction of vessel movement archives from the Lloyd’s List corpus. Two complementary analyses are proposed: long-term dynamics with all ships included (1890–2008) and medium-term dynamics focusing on container flows (1978–2016). Each analysis examines China’s maritime connectivity in various ways and on different spatial scales, from the global to the local, in terms of concentration, vulnerability, and expansion. The main results underline the influence of technological, economic, and political factors on the changing distribution of connectivity internally and externally. In particular, China has managed to reduce its dependence upon external transit hubs, to increase the internal connectivity of its own port system, and to strengthen its dominance towards an increasing number of foreign nodes and trade partners through the maritime network.