As the two largest economies in the world, Sino-US trade pattern and its evolution have a profound impact on the development of global economy. However, the Sino-US trade pattern, evolution, and status of the trade product network have not been fully revealed. Therefore, based on the United Nations Comtrade data, this study used descriptive statistical analysis and social network analysis methods to analyze the trade development process, product structure, and product trade network between China and the United States from 2001 to 2017. The study found that: 1) In terms of trade links, the bilateral import and export trade volume between China and the United States had been rising from 2001 to 2017, and the trade links had been growing steadily. 2) In terms of export product structures, China's export products to the United States mainly consist of mechanical equipment, textile, and clothing products. The product structure has not been changed significantly; and American export products to China mainly contain mechanical equipment, instruments, transport equipment, plant products, and chemical products. In recent years, the proportion of mechanical and electrical products has declined, and the proportion of transport equipment products has increased. 3) In terms of trade networks of major products, taking electronic products as an example, on the one hand, the change of degree centrality index reflects the rapid increase of China's influence in the network. China is the core member of the global trade network in electronic information industry. On the other hand, there is still a gap between China and the United States in terms of betweenness centrality and closeness centrality. The core competitiveness of the Chinese electronic information industry needs to be strengthened. More resources should be devoted to research and development of high technology in the new round of industrial transformation.
Detailed discussion on global energy trading structure and topological characteristics is the necessary knowledge for formulating energy trade-related strategies. From the perspective of complex network, this study examined the topological structure and evolutionary characteristics of the global energy trading network, and analyzed the competition and cooperation relationships between the trade groups and supply and demand countries. The results show that: 1) Since the 1990s, global energy trading relations have become increasingly complicated. In recent years, the number of energy trading entities has remained stable, and nearly 80% of the countries/regions in the world are involved in energy trade. 2) The global energy trading network has both "small world" effect and scale-free characteristics. 3) The energy export center has gradually shifted from East Asia, the Middle East, Australia, Europe to Russia, the Middle East, North America, Australia, and West Africa regions. At the same time, the import center has shifted from East Asia, Western Europe, and Australia to North America, East Asia, and Western Europe regions. 4) There are four trade blocs in the global energy trading network, namely, the trade blocs led by the United States, European-Russia countries, East Asia-Southeast Asia countries, and Australia-India-Africa countries. Geographical distances, institutional differences, historical, cultural, and political relations are important reasons for the change of trade blocs. 5) Within the trade blocs, the dependence between core countries is asymmetric. The diversification of import sources of energy demand countries is more prominent, and the East and Southeast Asian markets are jointly contested by the major supply countries. This study can help to further understand the changing energy trade linkages and provide some reference for policy formulation to achieve energy trade security.
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.
The cross-border capital of the Pearl River Delta has received extensive attention from international economic geographers because of its cultural diversity and geopolitical specificity. The theoretical model of "hybrid capitalism" was proposed base on this. However, due to the limitations of data and methods, relevant research mostly stays at the level of theoretical and qualitative exploration. The research based on firm-level samples is deficient, especially quantitative models that incorporate the new economic factors such as firm heterogeneity. Based on the sample data of enterprises, this study synthetically considered the traditional economic factors and new economic factors such as institution, agglomeration, innovation, and firm heterogeneity. In order to explain the mechanism of foreign direct investment (FDI) location choice from the firm level, we also combined a spatial analysis method and spatial regression model. Kernel density spatial analysis and spatial lag modeling based on firm samples were conducted to uncover the geographical agglomeration characteristics and location factors of the new-born cross-border manufacturing firms (NCMF) in the Pearl River Delta (PRD) during 2005-2009 and 2009-2013. To explore the location choice mechanism of FDI in the transitional period, we also focused on the impact mechanism of location choice of NCMF in the PRD before and after the global financial crisis (2005-2009). The main results are as follow: 1) The spatial agglomeration of the NCMF in the PRD is lower than before. The NCMF in the two periods of 2005-2009 and 2009-2013 showed great differences in structure and distribution characteristics. The hotspot of firm distribution began to expand from the east coast of the PRD to the west side after 2005, and after 2009, firm agglomeration in the east coast was again obvious. 2) After the global financial crisis, the development momentum of the PRD has undergone fundamental changes. The advantages of low labor cost and preferential policies of development zones that attracted cross-border manufacturing firms have gradually weakened, while agglomeration factors, innovation factors, and firm heterogeneity have become the key factors that affect the spatial agglomeration and location choice of NCMF. 3) In the period of a dynamic transformation, the Pearl River Delta needs to regain its new advantages of development by building a sound institutional environment, establishing innovation networks, enhancing factor agglomeration, and formulating diversified investment policies according to firm preferences. This study examined the location choice of FDI within the economic region using the firm-level data, and may provide an empirical reference for understanding the dynamic transformation and spatial reconstruction of the export-oriented economic region represented by the Pearl River Delta in China during the transition period.
As a foundation of spatial restructuring of industries, firm dynamics have triggered decades of research into entrepreneurship and its relation to regional growth since the 1980s. According to new firm formation and employment growth, the concept of "growth regime" was applied to classify cities into four types, namely, entrepreneurial, revolving door, routinized, and downsizing. This article describes the changing geography of city growth regimes in China in 2003-2008 and 2008-2013 based on firm-level data in the manufacturing sector in order to explore the new round of spatial dynamics in the 21st century. Two major paths of transition in growth regimes are identified. First, cities in several manufacturing bases of East China, whose export-oriented manufacturing activities were severely affected by the 2008 global financial crisis, fell from routinized to downsizing regime owing to low rate of new firm formation, slacked growth of existing firms, and declining employment growth in the manufacturing sector. Second, cities in the central region and the relatively underdeveloped part of East China, which were better positioned to attract new firms because of the rising domestic market potential, turned from revolving door to entrepreneurial regime due to high rate of employment growth brought by new firms. Furthermore, multinomial Logit models were used to test the effects of global and local factors of city growth regimes in the two periods, which transcends the exclusive focus on local conditions in existing research. The effect of export orientation at the global scale and agglomeration economies at the local scale changed from centripetal forces in 2003-2008 to centrifugal forces in 2008-2013. The falling influence of export orientation and the rising power of small firms and industrial structure reflect the changing global-local nexus.
After the global financial crisis, the resilience of China's regional exports is reflected in three stages: resistance in the first stage of the crisis (2008-2009), resilience in the second stage of the crisis (2009-2011), and promotion in product structure transformation after the crisis. This study constructed a regional export trade resilience index at the regional-product level, and described the spatial differences of regional resilience and resilience after the financial crisis with regard to regional export trade volume and product structure. The results of the regional-product level econometric model show that the diversification of related industrial structure not only can enhance the resistance of regional products in the short run, but also can improve the resilience of regional products in the long run, and further promote the upgrading of regional product structure. Emergency tax policy can effectively alleviate the impact of crisis in the short term, but its impact is limited and does not last; regional products with high export proportion of foreign enterprises have little effect on the upgrading of regional product structure, but processing trade promotes the upgrading of regional product structure in the crisis.
Since China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, Chinese firms have increasingly adopted product diversification as an important strategy. Existing literature concentrates on the internal factors and does not pay much attention to the external factors of product diversification of firms. This study used Chinese custom data and a Tobit model to investigate the influence of local related and unrelated product diversity on firms' export diversification strategy. The results show that: 1) Local related and unrelated product diversity has an impact on firms' export diversification strategy. Specifically, firms located in local systems dominated by unrelated product variety are more likely to show unrelated diversification patterns, while firms located in local systems dominated by related product variety are more likely to show related diversification patterns. 2) Due to the different sources of technological knowledge, the product diversification patterns of firms that belong to different industries are affected by local industrial structure differently. For example, firms belonging to footwear manufacturing industry are more likely to depend on the acquisition of local external resources and show a closer relationship with the pattern of diversification at the local level than transportation equipment manufacturers. 3) There is also a closer relationship between the diversification patterns of Chinese firms and the pattern observed in the local system than international firms. It reflects the difference in performance between Chinese and international firms. Chinese firms are closely related to the surrounding firms, while international firms may not have strong ability to acquire local external knowledge. According to the above results, Chinese government should promote industrial agglomeration and attract foreign firms by preferential policies and improved infrastructure, at the same time, give more support to domestic firms and improve the knowledge spillover benefits.
With the deepening of the implementation of the open-door policy, increasing number of Chinese enterprises realizes that to remain technologically competitive, it is not enough to only rely on domestic R&D investment. They need to learn and to absorb advanced technological experiences by R&D internationalization via international strategic alliances, transnational mergers and acquisitions (M&A), and establishing offshoring R&D laboratories. However, it is debatable whether R&D internationalization can indeed promote firms' innovation performance. Some scholars argue that R&D internationalization can expand the range of available innovation resources, which bring positive influences on enterprise innovation performance; while others state that R&D internationalization also increases the difficulty and complexity of organization management greatly. The innovative effect of R&D internationalization should be studied further. In this article, we analyzed the impacts of international strategic alliances, transnational M&A, and offshoring R&D laboratories on firms' innovation performance. Meanwhile, we tested the moderating roles of social embeddedness and absorptive capacity in the relationship between R&D internationalization and innovation performance. We conducted questionnaire surveys of 676 Chinese enterprises at the China International Industry Fair from 2016 to 2018, and applied multi-classification ordered logistic regression models to explore the relationship. The results suggest that first, Chinese enterprises tend to carry out offshoring R&D in developed countries and regions with high-density R&D capability, pooling of global innovation resources, and less language and communication barriers. Second, R&D internationalization has positive effect on innovation performance, but there are significant differences across different types of R&D internationalization. A positive correlation exists between transnational M&A and innovation; establishing overseas R&D institutions has an important impact on the increase of innovation performance. The empirical study also reveals that diversification of offshoring R&D activities has a significant impact on the creation of patents and new products. Via diversified overseas R&D activities, Chinese enterprises broaden their access to knowledge spillovers in host countries and accelerate access to useful and innovative information. In addition, the influence of R&D internationalization on innovation activities is regulated by social embeddedness and absorptive capacity.
With the gradual disappearance of China's demographic dividend, skill upgrading is becoming increasingly prominent. Studies have shown that the integration of developing countries into the global production network system does not necessarily lead to the upgrading of the skills of the labor force. Therefore, this study examines the impact of international trade on the upgrading of labor skills, using the panel data of major prefecture-level cities in the mainland of China in 2005, 2010 and 2015 for analysis. The results show that the overall impact of import and export trade is not significant. Specifically, export trade has a restraining effect on the employment of highly-skilled labor force while the technology diffusion effect produced by import trade has not yet appeared. Further, with regard to regional industrial geographical pattern, international trade affects inter-regional flow of labor force with different levels of skill, and the effect of trade on skill upgrading varies across different locations and city size characteristics. Import trade in coastal cities and large cities significantly promotes the employment of highly-skilled labor force and brings about the upgrading of regional labor skills. By contrast, for inland regions and small cities, export trade negatively affects the highly-skilled labor force, which results in a decrease of regional labor skills.
Under the background of booming regional integration, studying cross-border mergers and acquisitions (M&As) of enterprises can help understand capital flow in regions of different scales. This study used the BVD-Zephyr cross-border M&As data of Chinese enterprises from 2003 to 2017 to explore the accomplishment rate and transaction scale of cross-border M&As from the perspective of regional integration and institutional distance. Through Heckman's two-stage regression, this study found that: 1) Regional integration can promote the closing of cross-border M&A deals, but does not contribute to an increase in the amount of M&A transactions. 2) Rising formal institutional distance (significant differences of laws and regulations) helps close the deals, but it is not conducive to expand the scale of transaction. 3) Decreasing informal institutional distance (disparities of culture and identity) is able to assist the completion of transactions, but as long as the deal is done, it has larger amount. Besides, with the deepening of regional integration, formal institutional distance between the members is believed to be attenuated, which leads to a decreasing difficulty of closing deals and the hindrance of institutional distance to the transaction scale will be weakened.
Trade of agricultural commodities is an important part of the economic and trade cooperation between the Belt and Road countries, but the existing trade theories cannot fully explain the pattern and change of the cereal trade network between these countries. This study set up a four-dimensional analytical framework, combined social network analysis with spatial econometric analysis, and analyzed the spatial structure characteristics and mechanism of change of cereal trade network between the Belt and Road countries based on the United Nations Comtrade data from 1993 to 2016. The results show that: 1) The cereal trade network density of the Belt and Road countries is constantly increasing while the trade relations and trade intensity between these countries are constantly deepening. The position of the Belt and Road countries in the global grain trade network is on the rise and there is a clear phenomenon of trade club. 2) The network of trade relations has evolved from non-nuclear to multi-nuclear, and then to reshaping. 3) China's cereal trade with other Belt and Road countries has undergone an evolution from export-oriented to import-oriented. The Belt and Road initiative has enhanced China's position in the global grain trade network. 4) The evolution of the national cereal trade network of the Belt and Road countries is the product of resource endowment, economic environment, cultural identity, and political games. Compared with other trade networks, grain trade network has distinct characteristics and stronger stability. This study may provide some guidance for promoting cereal trade cooperation among the Belt and Road countries, optimizing trade structure, and ensuring food security.
With the expansion and continuous deepening of globalization, more countries are involved in the trend. In the meantime, the segregation of production has entered the stage of intra-product specialization. Trade of intermediate goods, as an embodiment of intra-product specialization, is taking up a growing proportion of global trade. In this study, we examined the structure and change of the intermediate goods trade network of textile industry, automobile industry, and electronic industry as typical examples of labor-intensive industry, traditional globalized industry, and tech-intensive industry, respectively. Then, we took China's exportation network as an example and looked into the factors that influenced its change. The results are as follows: 1) Structures of the three networks of difference industries show great heterogeneity—the network of electronics is more condensed, while the other two are looser. 2) During 1998-2017, China had been playing an increasingly more significant role in the global intermediate goods trade network. 3) Geographic distance significantly influences trade preference, yet only in the textile industry does the distance attenuation effect stand; Lower communication cost significantly increases trade preference and promotion of Chinese culture also increases trade preference; Institution of destination countries significantly influences trade preference—stronger voice and accountability of the state increases trade preference, while higher institutional quality repulses trade preference. Labor cost also affects trade preference significantly.
Advancement in the implementation of the Belt and Road initiative marks China's gradual transition from "bringing in" to "going out" and participation in a new era of globalization through a more diversified approach. Based on the Oriana Asia-Pacific Enterprise Database and the micro-enterprise data of China's foreign direct investment enterprise directory, this study examined the spatiotemporal characteristics and evolution of Chinese enterprises' foreign investment, and then identified the influencing factors of foreign investment decisions from the perspectives of enterprise heterogeneity and technological correlation effects. The results show that total factor productivity has clear positive effects on enterprises' foreign investment decisions. State-owned enterprises are more inclined to invest abroad than non-state-owned enterprises. Enterprises in eastern China are more inclined to invest abroad than western enterprises. Technological relatedness can significantly increase the level of foreign investment. This study attempted to understand the decision making of corporate foreign investment from a richer and more comprehensive perspective, which may provide some scientific support for guiding enterprises to go out in the context of the Belt and Road initiative.