Publication: Developing China’s Ports: How the Gateways to Economic Prosperity Were Revived

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Chiu, Hei
Cheng, Lu
Farrell, Sheila
Many countries in Africa and Asia have coastlines that present opportunities for them to become gateways for trade between the hinterlands and global trading routes. However, policy makers struggle to translate this potential into engines of economic development and social transformation. In the past 40 years, China has taken advantage of its strategic geographical location and its status as one of the world’s top manufacturing regions. From a very low position on almost all metrics, today China has become home to more than half of the world’s top 50 ports. The rapid development of China’s ports was critical for the country’s remarkable economic growth. What China achieved can be informative; how and why China revived and modernized its port sector is especially relevant and provides valuable lessons for other countries. This book explores the transformation of China’s port sector through four topics and four periods, beginning with China’s major economic reforms that started in 1978. The first topic addresses the links between China’s macroeconomic and regional development strategies and development of the port sector. During this period—through about 1991—China began decentralizing port management to facilitate development of special economic zones. The second topic—during the period 1992 through about 2001—is more specific about the ports and analyzes changes in port governance, including the way in which essential investments were determined and financed. The third topic examines the relationship of ports to the cities where they are located and to the hinterlands on which they depend—coinciding with the period 2002–11. Domestic and international investment resulted in many new export-oriented processing factories during this period. The accompanying boost in trade required further expansion of port capacity. The fourth topic addresses how—from 2011 onward—human resource and innovation policies in the port sector have responded to changing demands as the country looks to become a less resource-dependent and more regionally balanced economy.
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Aritua, Bernard; Chiu, Hei; Cheng, Lu; Farrell, Sheila; de Langen, Peter. 2022. Developing China’s Ports: How the Gateways to Economic Prosperity Were Revived. International Development in Focus;. © Washington, DC: World Bank. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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