Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2023, Vol. 78 ›› Issue (6): 1427-1442.doi: 10.11821/dlxb202306007

• Population and Urban Studies • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The impact of the opening of China Railway Express on the export trade of cities along the rail line in China and the mechanism test

ZHAO Mingliang1(), LIU Qinxiang1, SUN Wei2,3(), WULAZI Gaoshaer2,3   

  1. 1. School of International Economics and Trade, Shandong University of Finance and Economics, Jinan 250002, China
    2. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    3. College of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2022-08-22 Revised:2023-04-19 Online:2023-06-25 Published:2023-06-21
  • Contact: SUN Wei;
  • Supported by:
    National Social Science Foundation of China(21BJL112)


Based on the quasi-natural experiment, this paper uses the method of time double difference (DID) to empirically test the differential impact and mechanism of the opening of China Railway Express on the export trade of cities along the rail line by using the panel data of 279 prefecture-level cities in China from 2004 to 2019. The results show that: (1) The opening of China Railway Express has significantly promoted the export trade growth of cities along the rail line in China. The better the local transportation infrastructure conditions, the stronger the driving effect on the growth of local export trade. Exports are also positively regulated by the number of countries passing through and the logistics transportation capacity of the destination country. (2) Heterogeneity analysis found that the opening of the train has a significant positive impact on the export trade of the node cities of the supply hub, but it has no significant impact on the railway hub cities, and has a certain inhibitory effect on the export of the port cities. From the perspective of city size, the positive promotion effect of trade mainly occurs in small and medium-sized cities. Based on the analysis of different geographical location train channels, it is found that the promotion effect on the export trade growth of cities along the western channel is obvious. (3) The organization and operation of China Railway Express follow the "axle-spoke" mode, and their radiating space to the surrounding areas is roughly within 150 kilometers. The intermediary mechanism test shows that the opening of China Railway Express can promote the growth of export trade by improving the regional marketization level, and the positive intermediary effect of marketization level is more significant for cities in peripheral regions. The intermediary effect of transportation time cost saving is not significant, and the saving of time required by traditional shipping is not the main reason to promote the growth of export trade.

Key words: China Railway Express, trade geography, Belt and Road Initiative, differences in differences, mechanism analysis