China’s ports at each end of major East-West routes have seen an explosion in throughput numbers during the pandemic, with some like Tianjin posting double-digit growth last year. As a consequence, China’s ten largest ports handled more than 200 million TEUs in 2021, Alphaliner reported.
Overall, China’s top ten ports processed 202.5 million tons, an increase of 7.1% from 2020. This growth was mirrored across the country, as China’s Ministry of Transportation reported that total throughput annual volume of containers was 282.7 Mteu, also an increase of the order of 7%.
There is currently no change in the national ranking of China’s top 10 ports, but growth rates varied widely during the year. At the high end, North China’s largest port, Tianjin, posted a 10.4% increase in 2021, while Qingdao, which had been a strong performer in 2020, posted 7.7% growth. Yingkou was the only one of the top ten to lose traffic throughout the year.
However, sharp declines were seen in many ports at the end of the year with the re-imposition of COVID-19 restrictions. Tianjin, for example, lost 15% of its year-over-year traffic in December.
Outside the top ten, Dalian had another tough year, with the port slipping from 19th to 29th place globally in 2020 as volumes plummeted from 8.6 to 5.1 Mteu. In 2021 it saw another drop to 3.67 Mteu, a decline of 28%, as the port battled regional competition and severe congestion issues. However, bucking the trend, it rebounded strongly in December, posting gains of almost 40% year-on-year for the month. The port imposed a new congestion charge on December 29.