Cross-border expansion of digital platforms and transformation of the trade and distribution networks of imported fresh fruits from Southeast Asia to China

Chun Yang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Since the late 2000s, digital platforms have developed rapidly and expanded extensively to various industries of the global economy. Existing literature on the rise of digital platforms has primarily focused on the national-level context, while overlooking their cross-border dynamics and subsequent effects on the reconfiguration of cross-border production networks/value chains. Among the agri-food sector, the fresh fruits sector is one of many that have undergone profound restructuring induced by the increasing penetration of digital platforms. In an attempt at making connections between the insights of the burgeoning platforms and global production networks (GPN)/global value chains (GVC) literatures, this study develops an interconnected analytical framework to examine the cross-border expansion of China's digital platforms and resultant digital platform-driven transformation of regional trade and distribution networks/value chains in the evolving regulatory and market conditions in home and host countries. Based on the onsite field investigations in Vietnam, Thailand and China during the late 2018 and early 2020, this study explores the emerging platform conglomerates through domestic intra-platform and cross-border interplatform vertical integration and extra-platform partnership in the cross-border expansion to the upstream trade and downstream distribution of fresh fruit imports from Southeast Asia toward China's market. The contributions of the article lie in three aspects. First, it enriches the platform literature by incorporating the cross-border dynamics and expansion of digital platforms. Second, it advances the GPN/GVC literature by highlighting the power of digital platforms as new types of lead firms in the digital transformation of production networks/value chains. Third, it sheds light on the emerging China market-oriented reconfiguration of the Southeast Asian fresh fruit production networks coordinated by the Chinese platform conglomerates. The analytical framework developed in this study could hopefully be extended to examine digital platform-driven restructuring of a wider array of industries across variegated territories in the digital global economy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)716-734
Number of pages19
JournalGlobal Networks
Issue number4
Early online date21 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Social Sciences(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • China
  • South East Asia
  • digital platforms
  • fresh fruits
  • global production networks
  • global value chains
  • trade and distribution


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