A combination of changing trade patterns, pandemic-related closures, and strategic reorganizations has seen 8 of China’s top 12 ports change national classifications during the pandemic. Qingdao, Rizhao, and Lianyungang have been the main beneficiaries of the extraordinary market conditions seen since January 2020.
Total container throughput grew by 4.7% in China during 2022 to reach 295.9 Mteu. Growth was strongest in the ports of Dalian (+21.5%), Rizhao (+12.1%) and Lianyungang (+10.7%), while Yingkou saw a -4.0% drop yoy.
Shanghai remained firmly on top with an annual throughput of 47.3 Mteu, an increase of 0.6% over 2021, but well below the national average following COVID-related lockdowns. However, Qingdao rose to fourth position for the year, overtaking Guanghzhou, after increasing its performance by 8.3%. Only 3 years ago, Qingdao became the first port in North China to handle more than 20 Mteu.
Further down the ranking, Rizhao and Liangyungang surpassed Yingkou and Dalian, whose port groups merged in 2021. Growth-minded Lianyungang, now ranked as China’s 10th busiest port, has become a starting point for China’s Belt and Road Initiative: Throughput exceeded 5.0 Mteu for the first time in 2021 and in November, Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG) acquired a 23% stake in Lianyungang Port Group, providing RMB 1.5 billion ( 220 million USD) in new investments. Ningbo Zhoushan has been another success story, handling 33.3 Mteu in 2022 and closing in on Singapore’s 4.0 Mteu.
By contrast, Hong Kong’s throughput fell for the fifth consecutive year to 16.6 Mteu. Today it is China’s seventh busiest container port, up from third a decade ago. Dalian has also slipped down the rankings and its yield is now half the volume registered five years ago.