Along with the global strategy written into national strategy in 2000 and the Belt and Road Initiative proposed in 2013, China is accelerating the pace of investment for overseas ports. This study constructed a data base of examples of overseas ports investment by Chinese enterprises from 1978 to date, analyzed the spatial change of investment pattern on a global level, and clarified the features and pathway for Chinese enterprises entering overseas ports from the aspects of regional structure, participants, ownership change, and so on. It also examined the main entry patterns of overseas ports, internal relationship between different entry patterns, and correlation and shift between different patterns. Finally this article discussed the development mechanism of China's overseas port investment based on, in progression, why Chinese enterprises went global, why these enterprises invested where they did, and why these enterprises chose certain pattern. The results show that: The process of Chinese investment for overseas pworts can be divided into five development stages—before 2000, these overseas ports scarcely distributed in North Africa; from 2000 to 2008 China's investment for overseas ports tended to distribute in its surrounding areas; from 2009 to 2012 ports distribution turned to a global spread; from 2013 to 2016 overseas ports tended to concentrate as guided by the opening strategy; since 2007 ports distribution has remained overall stable. The changing process of distribution reflects three features: 1) Country distribution is dispersed, while these ports assemble significantly in Northwest European and Mediterranean at the navigation area scale. 2) The investors include large shipping enterprises, wharf operators, and infrastructure enterprises, among which the core enterprises for overseas ports' stock acquisition include China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company and China Merchants Steamship Company, and the core enterprise for overseas ports' infrastructure construction is China Harbour Engineering. 3) The number of overseas ports invested through stock acquisition began to increase rapidly since 2013 and as the investment process constantly deepening, overseas ports investment changed from equity participation to holding. Overseas ports entry patterns include infrastructure project construction, transfer of port managerial authority, acquisition of port's stock, and port management export. The influencing factors for overseas ports investment can be summarized as national economic development context, key opening-up strategy, global shipping pattern, spatial substitution, and enterprise self-development demand. Leading factors and their functions changed at different spatial scales and stages of development.