Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2020, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (10): 1681-1701.doi: 10.1007/s11442-020-1807-7

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Chinese overseas ports: Market potential, supply capacity and access to imports

DUNFORD Michael1,2(), LIU Zhigao1,2,3,*(), XUE Jiashun1,4   

  1. 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. Key Laboratory of Regional Sustainable Development Modeling, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    3. College of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    4. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2020-03-22 Accepted:2020-06-16 Online:2020-10-25 Published:2020-10-27
  • Contact: LIU Zhigao;
  • About author:Dunford Michael, specialized in economic geography and regional development. E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No(41530751);The Priority Research Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences, No(XDA19040403);National Social Science Foundation of China, No(17VDL008)


Especially since 2012 Chinese companies have acquired stakes as investors and constructors of overseas ports in both high-income and emerging economies. These initiatives play an important role in the construction of a Maritime Silk Road and China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Although a result of many factors, of which Chinese port investments are only one, macro-geographical gravity methods show that distance impedance and increases in the export market potential, export supply capacity and access to imports of these countries drove increases in income per capita. Export supply capacity rose particularly in Southeast Asia and more recently in Sub-Saharan Africa. In difficult times for the world economy, countries in which China invested in overseas port infrastructure saw increases in national export market potential and income per capita, due to reduction in the impedance of distance, while in the case of developing economies export market supply capacity and access to imported capital equipment and intermediate goods improved.

Key words: trade, gravity models, market potential, cumulative causation, port investment, China, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)