GEOGRAPHICAL RESEARCH ›› 2021, Vol. 40 ›› Issue (1): 138-151.doi: 10.11821/dlyj020190853

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Evolution and mechanism of port hinterland in Yangtze River Delta

KANG Yizhi1,2(), HE Dan1,2(), GAO Peng1, SUN Zhijing2   

  1. 1. The Center for Modern Chinese City Studies, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
    2. School of Urban & Regional Science, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200241, China
  • Received:2019-09-30 Accepted:2020-04-09 Online:2021-01-10 Published:2021-03-10
  • Contact: HE Dan;


This study attempts to integrate the hinterland evolution of seaports and inland ports into a unified research framework. The field strength model is used to divide the direct hinterland scope of the main seaports and inland ports in the Yangtze River Delta (YRD) in 2001, 2008 and 2016. Afterward, this study analyzes the evolution characteristics, and summarizes the hinterland evolution influence mechanism of the two leading ports with the most significant evolution - Shanghai port and Ningbo port. The research outcomes reveal that: (1) There are significant differences in the comprehensive influence and traffic accessibility of each port, and there are also changes in their ranking. (2) Due to the port cluster of YRD involving seaports and inland ports, the high value areas of field strength are concentrated in Shanghai, Ningbo and Lianyungang ports. (3) Significant difference is found in the scope of direct hinterland, but the overall spatial pattern shows no great change. The most dramatic change is that the expanding hinterland scope of Ningbo port basically comes from the shrinking hinterland scope of Shanghai port. The potential reason is that the further expansion of Shanghai port is indirect hinterland of river-sea shipping rather than direct land hinterland. On the contrary, Ningbo port expands the direct land hinterland. (4) The endowment differences between two ports lead to different hinterland evolution mechanisms and various types of port groups. Limited by water depth, Shanghai port depends more on developed freight forwarding system, cross provincial strategic alliance, capital investment on inland ports along the Yangtze River and other market mechanisms. Furthermore, with the intergovernmental cooperation, tax relief and deregulation, Shanghai port gradually establishes a relatively loose port community, which strengthens the control of the source of goods and further expands the indirect hinterland based on river-sea shipping. (5) Ningbo port, with advantageous port resources, leans heavily on administrative power of Zhejiang provincial government to integrate the port resources in jurisdiction, which forms a relatively close port community. This action contributes to alleviating cargo flow saturation and improving traffic accessibility. In the meantime, Ningbo port gradually sets up the chain of dry port, by which it expands the direct land hinterland to Zhejiang jurisdiction.

Key words: hinterland evolution, field model, river-sea shipping, sea-rail multimodal transport, ports in the Yangtze River Delta