China’s transforming ‘pearl’ in economic crown jewel into a shipping hub

China 24

China's transforming 'pearl' in economic crown jewel into a shipping hub

China aims to develop its southern Pearl River Delta region into a world-class urban cluster that would dwarf all others. Transforming it into a global shipping hub is a big part of the plan. Will it succeed?

CGTN’s Ge Yunfei visited a rapidly-expanding port in that area to find out.

China is developing its own “Bay Area,” an emerging mega-city of more than 120 million people named the Guangdong Hong Kong Macao Bay Area.

China’s Bay Area is also called the Pearl River Delta – or PRD for short. It’s made up of China’s two Special Administrative Regions, Hong Kong and Macao, and nine Mainland cities in Guangdong Province, including tech-hub Shenzhen, and trade center Guangzhou.

In China’s ambitious Guangdong Hong Kong Macau Greater Bay Area plan, building a cluster of world’s first-class ports is an essential part of the plan. And that starts with Nansha Port, located at the mouth of the Pearl River in Guangzhou.

For container ships, it is the gateway to Southern China making it a lynchpin in China’s Maritime Silk Road.

Workers completed the third phase of construction in 2017. The port now has 16 container berths and can serve the largest container ships on earth. The fourth phase, which kicks off this year, will make Nansha a fully unmanned automatic port.

Xu Shaoyue is a freighter captain who has been sailing between the two Bay Areas – San Francisco and Guangdong– for over 30 years. Xu said efficiency might be its biggest selling point but admits Chinese ports still have their weaknesses.

“The Chinese ports are even better and more modernized,” Shaoyue said. “But in professional services like piloting a ship into harbor and traffic control system, the U.S. ports will do a better job. So, the Chinese ports still need to improve their service.”

That shouldn’t be hard for Nansha. An established hub for global finance, China’s Bay Area has the necessary manpower and the capital. Right now, Guangzhou is applying to the central government for building a free trade harbor.

Bay McLaughlin on China’s Greater Bay Area development

China is working to transform a region in Guangdong Province, also known as the Greater Bay Area, into a world-class urban development. Bay McLaughlin, co-founder and COO of, discusses with CGTN’s Mike Walter.