Development of a container port system in Pearl River Delta : path to multi-gateway ports

Liming LIU, Kelly, Yujie WANG, Tsz Leung YIP

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)


A dramatic boom in the Pearl River Delta (PRD) port system has emerged during the past two decades, from having Hong Kong as the only gateway hub to the coexistence of three world-ranked container ports. This paper presents the PRD port system development to date and identifies the underlying forces driving the port system evolution. In particular, the unique process by which the PRD port system went from one gateway port to two ports and the undergoing regionalization with specialization is examined. The network strategy is stressed in shaping the port system structure. With the advantage of a hinterland regionalization, Shenzhen, among the gateway ports in PRD, has acquired the market share from Hong Kong. Shenzhen and Guangzhou ports move from the hinterland-dominated regionalization to a more balanced regionalization based on an established inland transport network, whereas Hong Kong undergoes a foreland regionalization. If the hinterland connection remains relatively weak, the gateway function of the port in Hong Kong will further decline, but its transhipment role will further dominate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-38
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Transport Geography
Early online date5 Dec 2012
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013

Bibliographical note

This paper was financially supported by a Hong Kong Polytechnic University Grant (Number J-BB7A).


  • Port emergence
  • Gateway ports
  • Port development model
  • Network strategy


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