PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2019, Vol. 38 ›› Issue (10): 1596-1606.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2019.10.014

• Special Issue | Empirical Study • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The rise of China and change of the global trade network during 1980-2018

LIU Zhigao1,2,WANG Tao1,2,CHEN Wei1,2,*()   

  1. 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Key Laboratory of Regional Sustainable Development Modeling, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. School of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2019-06-03 Revised:2019-09-10 Online:2019-10-28 Published:2019-11-01
  • Contact: CHEN Wei
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(No. 41901154);National Social Science Foundation of China(No. 17VDL008);Bureau of International Cooperation, Chinese Academy of Sciences(No. 131A11KYSB20170014);the Strategic Priority Research Program (A) of Chinese Academy of Sciences(No. XDA19040403)


With the development of the network analysis methods, studying global trade network by community detection and social network analysis (SNA) has become the frontiers in trade-related fields. However, most of the present research was of short temporal scale. Long-term studies are needed particularly given the growing uncertainties in today's world economy. Under the implementation of the Belt and Road initiative, analyzing the dynamics of the world politics and economy after the 1980s as well as the long-term shifts of the role of countries are of great significance for revealing the evolution of global trade network and thus contributing to the improvement of the initiative. Based on the Direction of Trade Statistics (DOTS) database by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), this article summarized three main stages in the global trade history after 1980 and illustrated and analyzed the change of the global trade network. The study found that: 1) The changes of world politics and economy and the improvement of technologies greatly influenced the global trade. The transformation from Fordism to Post-Fordism, the extension of neoliberalism, the development of digital technology, and the rise of developing countries represented by China have profoundly reshaped global trade. 2) The Top 1 network indicates that the change of global trade is relatively stable despite some shifts. In the European part of the global trade network, German bloc, French bloc, and Russian bloc are somewhat steady, while the United Kingdom bloc and Italian bloc have declined. In the Asia-Pacific part, the United States always played the leading role, the Australian bloc remained unchanged, but the Japanese bloc experienced a recession. 3) The rise of developing countries, such as India, Brazil, and South Africa, led to the great transformation of the world economy and trade network. These countries have recently become the regional trading centers. 4) With a high-speed development of the economy, China saw a dramatic rise in global trade and has become the center of the largest global trade bloc, exceeding the United States. Finally, this article briefly discussed the importance of long-term trade network research for the Belt and Road initiative.

Key words: global trade, network analysis, community detection, China