Resources Science ›› 2020, Vol. 42 ›› Issue (11): 2145-2157.doi: 10.18402/resci.2020.11.08

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Change of China-Africa container shipping network and its ability to support economic and trade ties

GUO Jianke1(), GUO Shu1, QIN Yafeng2, LIANG Muxin1   

  1. 1. Institute of Marine Sustainable Development, Liaoning Normal University, Dalian 116029, China
    2. School of Geography, Liaoning Normal University, Dalian 116029, China
  • Received:2020-05-11 Revised:2020-09-06 Online:2020-11-25 Published:2021-01-25


As an important part of the international shipping network, the China-Africa maritime network is of great significance for ensuring the unimpeded trade between China and Africa. Based on the China-Africa shipping container data in 1998, 2008, and 2018, this study explored the spatial pattern of China-Africa shipping network and its characteristics of change under the background of the Maritime Silk Road construction, and revealed the influencing factors of the strength of China-Africa geo-economic ties. The results show that: (1) On the whole, the complexity of the network has grown, the breadth and strength of China-Africa port connections have increased significantly, and the “small world” and scale-free characteristics of the network are obvious. The network presents a “spindle” structure and has not yet formed an integrated hub-spoke structure. (2) From the perspective of network node development and functional differentiation, Chinese ports are relatively stable. The ports of Shanghai, Ningbo, and Shenzhen have always been among the top three in China-Africa ties; Singapore and Port Klang occupy a dominant position among the transit ports; and there has been a significant shift of African ports. South Africa, North Africa, East Africa, and West Africa have each formed a regional hub port, but a hub port with a continent-level integration effect has not been formed. (3) Shipping betweenness is an important driving force of geo-economic ties between China and Africa; shipping proximity plays a significant role in geo-economic relations between China and Africa, while shipping directness plays a limited role in geo-economic relations between China and Africa. China and Africa have a long history of friendship and mutual assistance. With the deepening of the Belt and Road initiative and the strengthening of geo-economic ties between China and Africa, corresponding measures should be taken to improve and optimize the maritime transport structure to enhance the supporting capacity of economic cooperation and ties.

Key words: 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, China-Africa cooperation, shipping network, geographically weighted, containers, shipping and economic relation