Why China’s global shipping ambitions will not easily be contained

With global shipping in the midst of a protracted downturn and Beijing trying to curb debt-driven overseas acquisitions, you might think that now is a bad time for Chinese companies to be taking over international ports and shipping lines. But you would be wrong.

State-owned shipping giant Cosco has just agreed to buy Hong Kong’s Orient Overseas Container Line in a $6.3bn deal that will make it the world’s third-biggest container shipping group. The acquisition puts Cosco in a strong position to challenge European rivals Maersk and Mediterranean Shipping Company for the number one slot.

It comes after Chinese companies, including Cosco, spent $20bn buying up overseas ports in the year to June, double the amount they spent in the same period a year earlier.

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