Twenty years ago, the port of Shanghai was the only port in the Yangtze River Delta region ranked among the world's top 100, handling less than two per cent of the global container volume. Nowadays, five of the world's top 100 container ports are located in the Yangtze River Delta region, reported China Daily.
Meanwhile, the Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG) and the newly integrated Ningbo Zhoushan Port Group are the largest and fourth largest container ports in the world respectively. In 2016, these ports handled 13.17 per cent of the total volume of the top 100 container ports, globally.
In terms of cargo volume, seven of the world's 10 largest ports are from China. Among them are Ningbo Zhoushan Port, SIPG and port of Suzhou which are ranked first, second and fourth respectively. All three ports are located in the Yangtze River Delta region.
"In 20 years, the region has formed a port cluster, which contains the Shanghai International shipping hub, the Ningbo Zhoushan Port in Zhejiang province and the port of Suzhou in Jiangsu province," Mr Xu was quoted as saying.
In order to coordinate the development of ports and shipping industries in the Yangtze River Delta region, the State Council established the regional ports management committee in 1997.
The 15 major ports in the region form the largest port cluster in east China in terms of capacity. These ports handled a total of 4.17 billion tonnes of cargo and 78.08 million TEU in 2016, accounting for 35.2 per cent and 35.8 per cent of China's total respectively.
In a bid to further coordinate the development efforts of ports located in Jiangsu province - they handled 2.41 billion tonnes of cargo in 2016, accounting for 18.3 per cent of China's total cargo volume - authorities set up the Jiangsu Port Group in May, said bureau chief of the Jiangsu provincial port, Zhu Peide.
Deputy director of the Shanghai Municipal Transportation Commission, Zhang Lin, added that ports in China have for the past few years been developing themselves in accordance with the Belt and Road Initiative.
The Port of Shanghai, for example, has established close ties with 128 major ports in countries related to the initiative. Meanwhile, SIPG, China Cosco Shipping Corp and Zhenhua Heavy Industries have expanded their footprint overseas.
During the annual China Maritime Forum held in Ningbo recently, vice-minister of transport, He Jianzhong, said that creating an optimised supply structure, rolling out a comprehensive ocean transportation service network and simplifying customs administration would help to bolster the development of the maritime industry.