1st Edition

China’s Logistics From Laggard to Innovator

By Paul Clifford, Christopher Logan Copyright 2025
    270 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    270 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Exploring an underreported subject with global ramifications, this book sheds much-needed light on the rapid development of China’s logistics industry over the past several decades and puts it into historical context.

    Though still lagging behind global logistics leaders overall, China has invested heavily in logistics infrastructure and technology to become a vital link in global supply chains, and is forging ahead in e-commerce logistics. This timely book analyzes the key policies, infrastructure projects, technologies, and companies that have transformed China's domestic logistics capabilities and enabled it to become deeply intertwined with the worldwide supply chain. As the world enters a new era of geopolitics and confronts the possibility of US-China decoupling, it is more critical than ever to understand China's logistics system to navigate uncertain times—and with their decades of experience, these authors are the very best guides.

    Business leaders, policy makers, and logistics and supply chain professionals will benefit from this comprehensive and readable book’s insights into how and why China’s logistics system developed as it has, what that means for businesses and nations connected to China, and where we go from here.

    Introduction: Framing the Issues. Section 1: The Context: From Geography to Politics. Chapter 1.  Unpacking Logistics: Trade’s Backbone Explained. Chapter 2. How History and Politics Shape China’s Logistics. Chapter 3. Geography and transportation as the foundation. Chapter 4. The hand of government guides China’s logistics. Section 2: Challenges and Goals; From Backward to World Class. Chapter 5. Strategic issues and opportunities. From backward to world class. Chapter 6. Specialized niche markets and capabilities. Chapter 7. The digital revolution and technology advances are transformative. Chapter 8. Striving for green sustainability. Chapter 9. Logistics as a lifeline: Covid-19 and other natural disasters. Chapter 10. The global footprint: The Belt and Road, ports, and air-cargo. Chapter 11. China’s logistics intertwined with the rest of the world. Chapter 12. Taiwan: The logistics gray rhino. Section 3: The Key Players: Profiles and Case Studies. Chapter 13. China’s own logistics titans and trailblazers. Chapter 14. How global logistics firms have navigated the China market. Section 4: Conclusions. Chapter 15. Conclusions: Scenarios and strategic implications.


    Dr. Paul G. Clifford is a Senior Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School and author, The China Paradox. At the Front Line of Economic Transformation. Worked in China in banking, consulting and technology. Advised Chinese logistics firms and was Executive Director, China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing. Educated at SOAS University of London and Peking University

    Christopher Logan is President of LOGISTEED International and Chief International Business Officer of LOGISTEED Ltd. Previously with Accenture, Livingston, Agility, and Oliver Wyman in Beijing where he advised logistics clients. Educated at Ivey Business School, Western University, with further executive training at Harvard, Yale and the Lee Kuan Yew School.

    "China sits at the heart of global manufacturing -- and its innovations in logistics are an important reason why it's likely to stay that way. In this important new book, Clifford and Logan offer a rich and timely appraisal of the complex webs that define China's deep web of supply chains and provide essential strategic guidance for industry professionals."

    - Dr. Parag Khanna, Founder & CEO of AlphaGeo and internationally bestselling author of Connectography and The Future is Asian


    “China's logistics industry has experienced the stages of traditional logistics and modern logistics, and is now entering the era of intelligent and green logistics… My friend Paul [Clifford] has participated deeply in the reform process of transforming…many Chinese logistics enterprises, and has become a witness to this history. This book is his unique observation [in which] he has extracted many important conclusions, such as [on] the huge impact of Chinese government policies, on the Belt and Road Initiative and e-commerce logistics…This book deserves attention from readers who are interested in the development of Chinese logistics.”


    - Dr. Wu Youxi, Executive Director of China Logistics Society, Vice Chairman of Expert Committee of China Warehousing and Distribution Association, Visiting Professor at the Ministry of Commerce and at Beijing Jiaotong University.


    “In an increasingly volatile and complex global supply chain environment, an understanding of how China has emerged as a world leader in logistics is crucial. Clifford and Logan not only provide the reader with insight on the market’s development but deliver a clear ‘horizon scan’ of potential risks in an uncertain future.”

    - Professor John Manners-Bell, Founder, Foundation for Future Supply Chain and Author of ‘The Death of Globalization’.

    “It’s impossible to understand global supply chains and logistics without understanding China’s evolving role, strategies, and tactics. China Logistics analyzes drivers and dynamics, from geopolitics and trade networks to the role of technology in improving efficiency and sustainability. This book will help readers to think clearly about the obvious, probable "gray rhino” challenges across China’s logistics landscape.” 


    - Michele Wucker, Author of The Gray Rhino