Regional Sustainability


The production and trade of primary products had a growing impact on the economic security of all countries and regions, and the strategic position of these products in the global trade network was becoming increasingly prominent. Based on complex network theory, this paper explored the spatial pattern and complex structural evolution of the global primary product trade network (GPPTN) during 1985–2015 by using index methods, such as centrality, Sankey diagram, and structure entropy, focusing on the diversified spatial structure of China’s import and export markets for primary products (with exceptions of Taiwan of China, Hong Kong of China, and Macao of China due to a lack of data) and their geographical implications for China’s energy security. The research offered the following key findings. The GPPTN showed an obvious spatial heterogeneity pattern, and the area of import consumption was more concentrated; however, the overall trend was decentralized. The trade center of gravity shifted eastwards and reflected the rise of emerging markets. The overall flow of the GPPTN was from west to east and from south to north. In terms of the community detection of the GPPTN, North America, Europe, and Asia increasingly presented an unbalanced “tripartite confrontation”. China’s exports of primary products were mainly concentrated in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and other peripheral regions of Asia, and its imports undergone a major transformation, gradually expanding from the peripheral regions of Asia to Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and other parts of the world. Energy fuels also became the largest imported primary products. Based on the changing trend of structural entropy and main market share, the analysis showed that the stable supply of China’s energy diversification was gradually realized. In particular, the cooperation dividend proposed by the Belt and Road initiative became an important turning point and a strong support for the expansion of China’s energy market diversification pattern and guarantee of energy security.

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