China’s Maritime Behemoth Broadens Its Worldwide Reach

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  • The world’s leading shippers all stopped deliveries to and from Russia after its invasion of Ukraine — with one crucial exception.
  • The People’s Liberation Army is mounting the biggest peacetime naval build-up the world has ever seen, involving the private sector in an effort that Beijing brands “military-civil fusion”.
  • Cosco Shipping and OOIL did not respond to requests for comment for this article.

With one significant exception, the world’s biggest shippers all halted cargo to and from Russia during its invasion of Ukraine as reported by Global Circulate.

Economic succour for Russia

That, according to the London-based data analytics company GlobalData, was the industry’s fourth-biggest player, China COSCO Shipping Corporation Ltd. The Shanghai-headquartered group’s continued transport of Russian crude oil to China provided “economic succour for Russia as it faces a barrage of economic sanctions”, GlobalData analyst Sathiya Jalapathy wrote in March.

This singular fact shows the pressure on state-owned Cosco, as it is commonly known, to navigate the new era in which the world finds itself.

The People’s Liberation Army is mounting the biggest peacetime naval build-up the world has ever seen, involving the private sector in an effort that Beijing brands “military-civil fusion”.

As of March of this year, Cosco Shipping owned and operated more than 400 container vessels in and out of 558 ports worldwide, according to group websites, along with hundreds more tankers and other vessels.

Its ports subsidiary is now among the world’s top three largest port operators.

Communist Party claims democratic

China’s navy may only have one base abroad — in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa — but replenishment and other logistical support are in theory available wherever Cosco operates.

In 2019, China’s defence ministry heralded the successful resupplying of the PLA Navy frigate Linyi by the Hong Kong-flagged Cosco container ship Fuzhou.

Cosco and its subsidiaries maintain relationships with various entities within China’s defence-industrial establishment including, for example, receiving high-level visits from members of the Central Military Commission, said the Chu.

In the summer of 2020, the civilian ferry Bang Chui Dao, which is owned and operated by Cosco’s ferry subsidiary, was involved in amphibious landing exercises that military analysts said would help prepare for an invasion of Taiwan.

China’s Communist Party claims democratic

Closeness to the Chinese military

Taiwan as its territory and has not renounced the use of force in its push for unification.

The massive ferry, which normally loads and unloads vehicles at ports, had been modified with a hydraulic ramp that enabled amphibious tanks to load and unload in coastal waters.

Despite Cosco’s closeness to the Chinese military, Taiwan’s government allows it to ship to and from Taiwanese ports.

One of its subsidiaries also operates at the heart of Kaohsiung Port, Taiwan’s busiest port, after Cosco Shipping’s $6.3bn takeovers of Hong Kong-based Orient Overseas International Ltd (OOIL) in 2018, whose subsidiary OOCL leased a terminal at wharves 65 and 66 in the port.

Cosco has other interests at Kaohsiung Port.

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Source: Global Circulate

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