China is home to the largest port system in the world, certainly in terms of cargo volumes. Chinese ports are subject to a unique port governance framework which differs from the traditional landlord port system found in most key ports around the world. Port governance in China is the theme of a recent academic port study had been developed by PortEconomics member Theo Notteboom together with Yang Zhongzhen. The study is now available online and will be part of a special issue of the academic journal ‘Research in Transportation Business and Management’ (RTBM) dedicated to port governance and port reform around the world (guest edited by Mary Brooks, Kevin Cullinane and Thanos Pallis).
The market environment in which Chinese ports operate is quite different compared to ten years ago. The global and domestic economic slowdown and structural changes in the economic base have affected seaport volumes and freight traffic growth. Fears for port capacity shortages have made room for overcapacity. New geo-economic policies such as the ‘Go West’ strategy and the ‘One Belt One Road’ (OBOR) initiative, the implementation of modern corporate governance principles and the establishment of Free Trade Zones (FTZs) are affecting the Chinese container seaport system. The study shows that the above factors have triggered a number of strategic and managerial implications on Chinese ports: (a) an increased focus on seaport integration and co-operation, (b) a strong orientation on hinterland development through corridors and dry ports, (c) a two-way opening up of the seaport sector by combining initiatives to attract foreign investments and trade to Chinese ports with an internationalisation of Chinese port-related companies. The study also demonstrates that these changes have triggered processes of institutional layering in port governance without breaking out of the development path initiated by the Port Law of 2004 and related policy initiatives.
You can download the paper from the RTBM website. The list of references contains many other interesting papers on Chinese port governance.