Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2016, Vol. 71 ›› Issue (4): 605-620.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201604006

Previous Articles     Next Articles

Spatial structure of container port systems across the Taiwan Straits under the direct shipping policy:A complex network system approach

WANG Liehui1,2, HONG Yan1,2   

  1. 1. The Modern Urban Research Center of China, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China;
    2. School of Urban and Regional Science, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200241, China
  • Received:2015-04-07 Published:2020-05-22
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41371140; The Philosophy and Social Science Planning Project of Shanghai, No.2012ECK001]

Abstract: Since 1997, the cross- strait shipping policy between the mainland of China and Taiwan has evolved from indirect shipping, through piloting direct shipping to direct shipping.Such policy changes have transformed the cross- strait container port system which hasexperienced three phases of change: initial growth, rapid growth, and mature growth. Based onthe cross- strait shipment route data released by the State Department of Transportation, thisstudy measures and characterizes the evolving features of the cross-strait container port system,including its spatial connectivity, differentiation of geographic centricity, and regionalagglomeration. It further attempts to reveal the dynamic mechanism of spatial structural change of this port system under the direct shipping policy. From a complex network system perspective, the study employs tools of GEPHI software and GIS in the empirical analysis of container port system. The findings of the study are as follows. First, the spatial pattern of the cross- strait container port system is associated with three stages of evolutionary processes: aggregation of special trans- shipment ports, concentration of hub ports and development of regional port network. The changing process of the system can be characterized as the expanding scale of shipping connectivity, the weakening share weight of dominant shipping lines, and the reducing centrality of hub ports. The increasing centrality of the secondary ports and emerging clustering of small ports prompt the appearance of so- called‘Small- world’phenomenon of regional port agglomeration. Second, before the implementation of the direct shipping policy, the regional port clusters were mainly distributed in the Pearl River Delta and the Bohai Rim Region. After its implementation, the port clusters moved towards the West Coast Economic Zone while they remained in the Pearl River Delta. Third, the spatial evolution of cross-strait shipping network is driven by institutions, markets and technology. The special policy of direct shipping across the Strait has created an important social institution for the formation and evolution of a new port system. The enhanced cross-strait trade relations and the positive promotion of Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (ECFA) have largely reshape the shipping linkages between the ports in four coastal economic zones in the mainland of China and the ports in Taiwan. Besides, the port competition mechanism induced by technical innovation can affect the arrangement of shipment routing by shipping companies across the Taiwan Strait.

Key words: crossstrait direct shipping, container port system, spatial evolution, complexnetwork