Major Ship Operators Covering the Whole Coast  主要公司 


From the 19th century the three major coastal shipping companies, operating along the coast from north to south and to some destinations abroad were, in order of establishment,


  • Jardine, Matheson & Co., London, operating as 

China Coast Steam Navigation Company (1873-81)

Yangtze Steam Navigation Company Ltd (1879-81)

Indo China Steam Navigation Company Ltd (1881-1976)

Indo China S N Co river steamer KUNG WO, photo attribution US Naval History Heritage Command 77128

  • John Swire & Sons, London, operating as

China Navigation Co. Ltd

China Nav Co fast North China service steamer FENGTIEN, photo attribution, which links to pages covering histories and illustrations of all the China Nav Co ships

  • China Merchants Steam Nav. Co. Ltd, Shanghai

China Merchants S N Co coastal steamer HAI HENG              Barclay, Curle & Co.

Predecessors of China Merchants included the US-flag Russell & Co , which managed Shanghai Steam Nav. Company Ltd (a fleetlist is included on the Yangtse and Shanghai page). A company subsumed by the Indo-China Steam Navigation Co was the German-managed Trautmann & Co (fleet list included on the North China page).

Negotiations by the Chinese Government resulted in the Treaty of 1943 which reserved Chinese coastal and river services for Chinese-flag ships only.  Nevertheless, it is notable that a number of Chinese coastal operators had managed to build substantial fleets in the difficult conditions in the first part of the 20th century. 


One of these was Ching Kee S N Co of Chefoo (fleet list included on the North China page).


Ching Kee's ENGLEE from a company advertisement. In the late 1930s this ship and others were laid up in Hong Kong to avoid Japanese seizure     OSK Guide 1929

Another was Yu Xiaqing who was the prime mover behind several companies including San Peh S N Co, Hoong On S N Co., and Ningshin S N Co.

CHANG SING was operated by San Peh S N Co from 1926 until lost in 1948, photo attribution Malcolm Rosholt, Historic Photographs of China, University of Bristol ro-n0993


Another prewar operator in Tianjin and Shanghai had been Tung Chao Yung (C.Y. Tung). After the war he sought to reinvigorate coastal shipping by consolidating assets with other owners but with the Revolution, moved to Hong Kong where he built his fleet including the major international shipping line now known as Orient Overseas Container Line.

C.Y. Tung's PEI MING of Tientsin Nav Co was  sailing between Tianjin and Shanghai in the late 1940s   S.Kentwell collection.  

Following the establishment of the People's Republic 1949, state-owned fleets developed on the coast included the HOPING (HEPING) cargo ships, later renamed in the ZHANDOU series, and the MIN CHU passenger ships, later renamed in the GONG NONG BING series.  By the mid-to late 1950s new ships were being built in China.


This PDF file is an illustrated fleet list covering the more than 20 passenger ships of the MIN CHU ("Democracy") series, which in 1966 became the GONG NONG BING ("Workers, Peasants and Soldiers") series.


This PDF file contains an illustrated summary of ships known to have borne a HOPING ("Peace") name.


This PDF file contains an illustrated summary list of ships known to have borne a ZHANDOU ("Combat") name.