Exploring causes of growth in China's inland waterway transport, 1978–2018: Documentary analysis approach

The cargo volume handled by China's inland waterway transport (IWT) system increased from 358 million tons in 1978 to 3.74 billion tons in 2018,1 far exceeding the total cargo volume on all rivers in the world except China. The container throughput of ports along the Yangtze River increased from 106,000 Twenty Equivalent Unit (TEU) in 1990 to 19.6 million TEU in 2018. The remarkable growth rate of IWT volume over 40 years is much higher than that of all land transport modes, ranging from 3.2% to 8.3% during the same period. This study examines the causes of such remarkable growth of volume in the IWT sector and draws lessons and experiences for China, which will help shape emerging economies desiring to develop their IWT system. This study applies documentary analysis of the Chinese government with historical data over 40 years. This study has defined four distinctive developmental stages: take-off, adjustment, breakthrough, and high growth. This study reveals that China's remarkable growth of IWT is attributable to institutional reform, infrastructure development, fleet modernization and standardization, financing diversification, and human resources development and education under central government's consistent interventionism over past 40 years.


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  • Accession Number: 01877411
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Mar 27 2023 3:10PM