PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2015, Vol. 34 ›› Issue (5): 589-597.doi: 10.11820/dlkxjz.2015.05.007

• 一带一路专辑 • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Spatiotemporal distribution and functions of border ports in China

Zhouying SONG1,2,3, Shuyun CHE4, Jiaoe WANG1,2, Lei ZHENG1,2,5   

  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. Collaborative Innovation Center for Geopolitical Setting of Southwest China and Borderland Development, Kunming 650500, China
    4. School of Geography, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
    5. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2015-04-01 Revised:2015-05-01 Online:2015-06-17 Published:2015-06-17


Border ports play a substantial role in socioeconomic exchanges that reflect the diplomatic relations between neighboring countries. As a platform for cooperation and opening-up, the Belt and Road Initiative will boost the development of border ports. This article maps and analyzes the evolution process of border ports in China since the 1930s with regard to their spatial distribution, transport modes, and flows of cargo and people. Based on the relative concentration index (RCI), five function types of border ports are summarized according to the functions and development levels of border ports and cities. The results of the spatiotemporal distribution analysis show that there were three stages and two peak periods for the opening of border ports in China since the beginning of the 1950s. The opening of border ports is closely related to the bilateral relations with neighboring countries and complementarities of natural resources and economic development, as well as foreign policies. Nearly half of the border ports in China have limited urban functions due to the adverse natural environment and small population size. The findings of this study may help to understand the development of the border port system that is an important part of the Belt and Road Initiative of China.

Key words: border ports, spatio-temporal distribution, relative concentration index (RCI), border cities, China