Top 5 Busiest Ports In China: PRC Seaports Dominate World’s Commercial Trade


As an economic powerhouse and world’s top exporter, it should  come as no surprise that seven of the top 10 largest ports in the world are located in China


Over the years, Singapore was known as the world’s largest container port but today Shanghai is on the podium. Shipping is responsible for 90% of world trade and China is by far the most dominant force in maritime shipping and a major influencer of the world’s commercial trade. The country is investing heavily in ports, roads, and railways as part of its Belt and Road Initiative. Here’s a breakdown of the top 5 ports in Chinese Mainland.


1. Port of Shanghai


With a new world record of 40 million TEUs handled in 2017, the port of Shanghai holds the crown of the world’s busiest port. t handled 37.13 million TEUs in 2016, up from 32.53 million TEUs in 2012. It’s staggering to think that when the port first started operations 40 years ago, it had a handling capacity of less than 8,000 TEUs. In comparison, second-placed Singapore managed 33.7 million TEUs. Shanghai alone accounts for more than a quarter of China’s foreign trade in terms of value. It has seen a 71% increase in volume over the last decade and currently has the size of 470 football pitches. As a gateway port for the Yangtze River Delta, it’s located close to many factories located in neighboring provinces of Zhejiang and Jiangsu. And given China’s role as the world’s largest exporter, its strategic location makes it one of the most important ports for foreign trade. Shanghai Port’s developments in recent years have been astounding and nowadays it’s also home to the world’s largest automated container terminal, the Yangshan Deep Water Port. 


2. Port of Shenzhen  


Located in Guangdong Province, the port of Shenzhen connects China’s southern hinterland to pretty much the rest of the world. Known as the gateway to the Pearl River Delta and Hong Kong, Shenzhen maritime hub consists of an eastern and a western port.  Tt’s spread out over some 260km of the city’s coastline and, basically, is a real ‘collection of ports’ along Guangdong province coastline.  Around 560 ships call at Shenzhen Port monthly, covering over 130 international container routes. Shenzhen hosts more than three dozen shipping companies and tt serves as an export hub for electronics manufacturers and other businesses around the Pearl River Delta. 


3. Port of Ningbo


The ports of Ningbo (also called Ningbo-Zhoushan) merged in 2015 as third largest port in China. Shanghai may be the busiest Chinese port, it’s the port of Ningbo that holds the crown for being the first port to handle 1 billion tonnes in cargo throughput in a calendar year. Today it connects to more than 600 ports in over 100 countries and since 2016 the port has been increasing its efficiency to meet the rising demand. Already, it was offering regular intermodal rail services to the hinterlands. But it has recently launched new services, with its sea-rail transport lines now providing 11 train services to 36 cities in China and reaching farther out countries in central and northern Asia, and even eastern Europe. Why is Ningbo one of the busies ports in China? The answer is the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. According to Beijing, Ningbo has a strategic role to connect China to new destinations.


4. Port of Guangzhou


For centuries, Guangzhou was the only Chinese port accessible to most foreign traders. But it lost its monopoly to Shanghai, Hong Kong and other ports when the British gained control over it during the First Opium War. This South China port is located at the mouth of Guangdong Province’s Pearl River and is largely considered to be the main port in the region.  Once a trading port, it served as one of China’s busiest ports during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Today, thanks to its strategically-placed location, it has sea connections to over 300 ports in more than 80 countries all over the world. It handles mainly manufactured, industrial, and agricultural goods. In 2016, it managed 17.59 million TEUs. Given its location, cargo going in and out of nearby provinces such as Yunnan, Sichuan, Jiangxi, Guizhou, and Guangxi also go through the Port of Guangzhou.


5. Port of Qingdao 

Established in 1892, Qingdao’s port is today an important hub of international trade and sea-going transportation along China’s Yellow River Basin and on the west coast of the Pacific. The port has been 2nd largest for foreign trade throughput in China for years. It is the largest port for inbound iron ore in the world, and the largest port for inbound crude oil in China. The port has 81 functional berths, of which 51 are dedicated to a single type of cargo. The remaining 30 berths handle other types of cargo. Qingdao port offers direct shipping routes to more than 150 countries.


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