Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2018, Vol. 28 ›› Issue (9): 1215-1232.doi: 10.1007/s11442-018-1521-x

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The identification of global strategic shipping pivots and their spatial patterns

Chengjin WANG1,2,3, Peiran CHEN1,2,3(), Yunhao CHEN1,2,3   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Regional Sustainable Development Modeling, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    3. College of Resource and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2018-01-04 Accepted:2018-03-20 Online:2018-09-25 Published:2018-09-25
  • About author:

    Author: Wang Chengjin, PhD and Professor, specialized in economic geography, especially the port system, logistics network, and industrial geography. E-mail:

  • Supported by:
    The Strategic Priority Research Program of the CAS, No.XDA20010101;National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41571113;The Key Project of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, No.ZDRW-ZS-2017-4


In concert with developments in global trade and energy resource transportation, there has been a marked increase in reliance on overseas shipping. Unimpeded marine transportation has therefore become a key issue which influences national maritime interests including the security of trade and energy resources. A strategic shipping pivot thus performs a vital controlling function for global shipping networks. In this study strategic shipping pivots are defined and subdivided into sea hubs, channels and areas. We then develop a model to identify strategic shipping pivots on a global scale. The results show that, depending on differences in location, function, and type, the concept of strategic shipping pivot permits the identification of both spatial and structural differentiation with respect to strategic hubs, corridors, and seas. Now 44 strategic hubs have formed across the globe. These hubs have become the control centers of local shipping network organization. At the same time, seven strategic corridors containing most shipping routes and transportation capacity connect important sea areas, and permit a high-degree of control over the transport of strategic materials. The strategic seas, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific provide vital import and export pathways, so that the formation of strategic shipping pivots is mainly influenced by factors such as physical geographical conditions, the spatial distribution of socio-economic activities, business organization, technical progress, geopolitical patterns and geopolitical disputes. Physical geographical conditions provide the potential foundations for strategic shipping pivots, while the spatial distribution of socio-economic activities and communications determine the strategic value of these points. Finally, business organization, technical progress, and geopolitical disputes all function to strengthen the strategic mechanisms and the mutagenicity of strategic shipping pivots.

Key words: strategic shipping pivot, identification model, spatial patterns, mechanisms of development