The evolution of a regional container port system : The Pearl River Delta

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalNot applicablepeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-275
Journal / PublicationJournal of Transport Geography
Issue number4
Early online date6 Oct 2000
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2000
Externally publishedYes


This study investigates the progress of container port system development in South China, focusing particularly on the interplay between Hong Kong and the other ports in the Pearl River Delta (PRD) region. After identifying the downgrading trend of Hong Kong from a transshipment hub port for Asia and for China as a whole to a regional load center and the emergence of other deepsea direct-service ports, the paper looks into the causes of this structural change of the port system. Four major causes are identified: the cost-base competition, the impact of the unique 'one-country two-systems' policy, the impact of globalization and container standardization, and the impact of multi-modal accessibility and connectivity. The paper reveals that the interplay between different governments and between the governments and port operators are the local mechanisms that together as a whole respond to the shippers' needs and the shipping lines' pressure. It confirms that the interdependencies and competitive relations between terminals are being played out at a regional level. While the particular situation of the PRD is unique in many regards, the features emerging there, with its dominant hub, its network of feeder ports and its emerging direct-service non-hub terminals, are being replicated elsewhere.

Research Area(s)

  • China, Container transport, Hong Kong, Port, Transport development