This paper sheds an empirical light on port development patterns by discussing the structure and the development of the Yangtze River ports system. We argue that the Yangtze River system is going through a regionalization phase, mainly in relation to the port of Shanghai. This process started on the lower Yangtze but is now also moving upstream. The transition towards the port regionalization phase is typically a gradual and market-driven process that mirrors the increased focus of market players on logistics integration. This paper builds on the existing literature on port systems and adapts port development models to river ports. Furthermore, we employ some statistical techniques that are common to the analysis of port systems, and introduce some techniques that have not been used much by transport geographers in ports. This paper will address the dynamics in the Yangtze River ports system by analyzing the level of cargo concentration and the degree of inequality in operations of the container ports. The paper also assesses observed differences in development of ports in different areas along the river (upstream/downstream) and reflects on the role of ownership structures in shaping regional load centre networks.

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Journal of Transport Geography
Erasmus School of Economics

Veenstra, A.W, & Notteboom, T.E. (2011). The development of the Yangtze River container port system. Journal of Transport Geography, 19(4), 772–781. doi:10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2010.09.006