PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2020, Vol. 39 ›› Issue (5): 716-726.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2020.05.002

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Characteristics of change of the China-Europe port shipping network under the Belt and Road Initiative

GUO Jianke, HOU Yajie, HE Yao   

  1. Center of Ocean Economy and Sustainable Development, Liaoning Normal University, Dalian 116029, Liaoning, China
  • Received:2019-03-18 Revised:2019-12-27 Online:2020-05-28 Published:2020-07-28
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(41871112);Major Projects of Humanities and Social Science Research Base of Ministry of Education(18JJD90005);Key Projects of Liaoning Federation of Social Sciences(2020lslkjdzd-003)


China and Europe are located at the east and west ends of Eurasia. The smooth flow of trade between China and Europe is an important part of the development of the Belt and Road region. At present, China-Europe economic and trade ties are still mainly maintained by sea. The connection between Chinese and European ports through shipping network is the guarantee of smooth trade. Therefore, studying the development and change of China-Europe port shipping network is of great significance for understanding and enhancing the supporting capacity of China-Europe trade links. Based on the shipping data of the past 20 years, the network of Chinese and European port routes is constructed. By portraying the complexity of the port shipping network, the spatial differentiation of the portability changes of different port nodes is revealed. Then we explored the characteristics of change of the China-Europe shipping network by the transit port system and the network organization structure. The result shows that: 1) Since 1995, the port nodes linked to the China-Europe routes have increased significantly, and the network coverage has expanded significantly. In 2005 and 2015, the network showed obvious small world and scale-free characteristics; the changes in the breadth and depth of connection and accessibility of the different ports were significantly different, with 84% of the ports being more accessible, and a few ports in the Mediterranean and the Arabian Sea showed reduced accessibility. 2) The transit port system of the China-Europe shipping network has changed from V-shaped to U-shaped. The core transit ports have become differentiated, the transit nodes have gradually become systematic, the transit paths have become more diversified, and the network stability has increased. 3) The hub and spoke structure of the China-Europe shipping network is continuously optimized, the network operation efficiency is significantly improved, and the route links are more diversified and complicated. The hub-spoke spatial model of the China-Europe port shipping network has experienced three stages of change from triangular to balanced dumbbell type and unbalanced dumbbell type, which finally formed the multi-level hub-spoke spatial organizational structure, with Shanghai and Rotterdam as the main hubs.

Key words: Belt and Road Initiative, China and Europe, complex network, spatial association, hub and spoke system