Chinese investment in overseas container terminals: The role of investor attributes in achieving a higher port competitiveness

Dong Yang, Lu Li, Theo Notteboom

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Chinese enterprises have invested in more than 100 overseas ports globally in the past two decades, but their contribution to the local terminal's competitiveness remains unclear. Differing from the existing qualitative geopolitical interpretation of China-labeled port projects, this study empirically investigates how investor attributes with Chinese characteristics affect the throughput evolution and market shares of the respective container terminals. Our primary focus is on terminal-level performance to eliminate non-Chinese investors' influence in focal ports with multiple terminals. Pooled regression is used to analyze panel data for 68 overseas container terminals of three Chinese international port operators (COSCO Shipping Ports, China Merchants Holdings International and Hutchison Ports) from 2008 to 2019. The regression results show that being a state-owned enterprise, owing a vessel fleet and higher project ownership would benefit the focal container terminal's market share. In contrast, shareholder complexity may adversely impact the terminal's competitiveness. An interesting finding is that for state-owned enterprises, investments in politically unstable areas with fewer regional ports are more likely to result in a greater market share. These findings provide managerial implications for enterprises and enrich literature on foreign port investment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-122
Number of pages11
JournalTransport Policy
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


  • Chinese enterprise
  • Port competitiveness
  • Port investment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Transportation


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