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China Ocean Shipping Company, Limited
FormerlyChina Ocean Shipping (Group) Corporation
FoundedApril 27, 1961; 61 years ago (1961-04-27)
Fatebecame a subsidiary
SuccessorChina COSCO Shipping
Area served
ServicesFreight forwarding
Ship repairing
Terminal operations
Chinese name
Simplified Chinese中国远洋运输有限公司
former name
Simplified Chinese中国远洋运输(集团)总公司
former short name
Simplified Chinese中远集团
COSCO Vancouver
COSCO 40 foot container
Semi-submersible heavy lift vessel Xiang Rui Kou
President of COSCO Group Capt. Wei Jiafu (left) meets with Deputy Foregin Minister of Greece, Dimitris Kourkoulas (right), 2012.

China Ocean Shipping Company, Limited, formerly China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company,[a] commonly known for its abbreviated name COSCO Group, or simply, COSCO, is a former Chinese Government owned shipping and logistics services supplier company.[1] It is one of the major holding company for China COSCO Shipping. China COSCO Shipping itself is formed by a merger of COSCO Group and China Shipping Group as one conglomerate, by a creation of a new common parent company of the two groups.

COSCO headquarters is in Ocean Plaza in the Xicheng District in Beijing.[2][3] It owns 1114 ships, including 365 dry bulk vessels, a container fleet with a capacity of 1,580,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU), and a tanker fleet of 120 vessels.[4] The fleet calls at over a thousand ports worldwide.[5] It ranks among the largest in both number of container ships and aggregate container volume in the world.[6] In 2012, it was among China's top 15 brands.[7]

It was the largest dry bulk carrier in China and one of the largest dry bulk shipping operators worldwide. In addition, the Group is the largest liner carrier in China.[8]


China Ocean Shipping Company (1961–1993)[edit]

China Ocean Shipping Company, or COSCO in short, was founded in 1961 as a Chinese government agency. In the same year, a subsidiary was formed in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province. The Guangzhou subsidiary purchased a British vessel and renamed it as Guanghua (Chinese: 光华). Guanghua made its maiden voyage to Jakarta for the People's Republic of China in April 1961.[9]

After US resumed the relation with China in the 1970s, China Ocean Shipping Company signed an agreement with American company Lykes Brothers Steamship Company in 1979. The agreement opens the commercial sea routes between the United States and the People's Republic of China.[10] In the same year, COSCO became the Chinese side representative to collaborate with International Telephone and Telegraph on repairing the communication facilities in the coastal cities of China.[11]

In 1981, COSCO won a contract from the Pakistani Government owned National Tanker Company of Pakistan, for crude oil transport.[12]

China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company (1993–2015)[edit]

The company became a holding company and renamed as China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company in 1993.[13][non-primary source needed] Two other government owned companies, China Marine Bunker Supply Company (Chimbusco in short) and China Road Transport Company, which engaged in oil tanker and road transport businesses respectively, became the subsidiaries of the group in 1988 and 1992[14] respectively. China Road Transport Company was renamed into COSCO Logistics in 2001 (now part of COSCO Shipping Logistics). As of 2003, COSCO Logistics engaged in shipping agency, freight forwarding, third party logistics and supporting services.[14][non-primary source needed] While Chimbusco became a joint venture with PetroChina since 2003.[15]

COSCO has a Hong Kong division which the division acquired a HK-listed company Shun Shing Holdings[b] in February 1997.[16] Hong Kong was a British colony until June 30, 1997, and has been a special administrative region of China with a separate jurisdiction system since July 1. Another subsidiary of COSCO HK at that time,[16] COSCO Pacific,[c] was a HK-listed company since 1994. COSCO Pacific has a joint venture with Hongkong International Terminals Limited, which operates a terminal in Kwai Tsing Container Terminals, Hong Kong since 1991.[17] COSCO Pacific acquired 49% stake of COSCO Logistics from the parent company in 2003. COSCO retained the remaining 51%.[14] COSCO Pacific also owned 20% stake of Hong Kong-based Chong Hing Bank from 1997[18] to 2007. In 2007 the stake was sold to the parent company, COSCO HK.[19][20]

In 1995, another subsidiary, COSCO Corporation (Singapore) Limited,[d] became a listed company in Singapore Exchange.[21] The company was a component of Straits Times Index until 2010.[22]

COSCO also acquired a Shanghai-listed company in 1997 as a vehicle of backdoor listing. It became COSCO Development,[e] which engaged in real estate. The direct parent company of COSCO Development was sold in 2005, thus COSCO Development was no longer part of the COSCO Group.[23] Also in 2005, COSCO Group acquired a company from COSCO Development.[24] That company was the operator of Boao Forum for Asia.[13][non-primary source needed]

In 2002, another subsidiary, COSCO Shipping Co., Ltd.,[f] became a listed company in Shanghai.

In 2004, COSCO formed a joint venture with fellow Central Government owned Ansteel Group (Angang Group).[25]

In 2005, the flagship subsidiary of COSCO, China COSCO Holdings, became a listed company.[26] The A share of China COSCO Holdings was listed in Shanghai since 2007.[27]


In 2005, a smaller Central Government owned company, China Ocean Shipping Tally (known as China Tally in short), was merged into COSCO Group.[28]

In 2008, China COSCO Holdings was part of Financial Times Global 500 for the first time.[29]

By 2015, after more than 5 decades, COSCO Group expanded into one of the major shipping company of the country. It also had a few listed subsidiaries: COSCO Pacific, COSCO International Holdings, China COSCO Holdings, China International Marine Containers, etc., . Real estate developer, Sino-Ocean Group, was an associate company of COSCO until 2010.

In December 2015, COSCO Group merged with fellow Chinese Government owned China Shipping Group[30] to form China COSCO Shipping. COSCO Group was retained as an intermediate holding company.

In December 2017, COSCO Group (China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company) was re-incorporated from "An industrial enterprise owned by the whole people" to simply a limited company. The name of the company, also changed to China Ocean Shipping Company, Limited (Chinese: 中国远洋运输有限公司).[31]


COSCO contains several listed companies and has more than 300[citation needed] subsidiaries locally and abroad, providing services in freight forwarding, ship building, ship repair, terminal operation, container manufacturing, trade, financing, real estate, and information technology.[32]

On the eve of 2015 merger, COSCO Group has a few listed companies:[33]

Moreover, China International Marine Containers is an associate company of the group, which COSCO indirectly owned 22.77% shares of that listed company as of December 2015.[37] The stake was owned by COSCO Pacific until 2013.[38]

As of 2000, COSCO also owned 30% stake of China Cargo Airlines.[39]

COSCO also had an unlisted business unit in Hong Kong, which was known as COSCO (Hong Kong) Group Limited. COSCO (H.K.) Group was the direct parent company of COSCO Pacific (valid until December 2004[40][41]) and COSCO International.[35] COSCO (H.K.) Group bought the 20% stake of Chong Hing Bank and the entire stake of Shun Shing Construction from COSCO Pacific[19][20] and COSCO International[42] respectively in 2007.


In 1991 COSCO was asked by the US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) to submit information regarding Chinese Government restricting U.S.-flag carriers on doing business in China. However, COSCO asked FMC to drop its probe instead.[43] FMC also investigated COSCO for its pricing behavior in 1997, but stating there is not enough evidence to launch a formal probe on alleged under-pricing its service to eliminate competitor.[44]

In August 1993, COSCO's ship Yinhe, was anchored off the coast of Oman. US government alleged that the ship carried material exported to Iran, which could be used to make chemical weapons. COSCO claimed that the ship only contained "paper goods, hardware and machine parts".[45]

In 1997, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, United States senators from California, had asked the Clinton administration to investigate COSCO's leasing on a former naval base in Long Beach. The site was developed into a container port terminal, Pacific Container Terminal.[46] However, continued controversy and opposition by Republican lawmakers caused cancellation of the lease, and the new cargo terminal, which was in fact built by the Long Beach Harbor Department (Port of Long Beach), was leased to Hanjin Shipping, a South Korean firm.[citation needed]

During the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, most shipping companies halted all container shipping to Russia, except for basic food products, medicine and humanitarian aid. The exception is COSCO which continues to ship to Russia, and was the largest shipping company to do so.[47]

Incidents and accidents[edit]

2009 Norway oil spill[edit]

On 31 July 2009, the Panama-flagged bulk carrier, Full City, operated by COSCO Group's HK division,[48] experienced engine failure and ran aground near Langesund, Telemark, Norway, during a storm, spilling 200 tons of heavy bunker fuel oil in an ecologically and environmentally sensitive wildlife area.[49]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Also transliterated as China Ocean Shipping (Group) Corporation
  2. ^ After the acquisition, the listed company was known as COSCO International. As of 2020, is known as COSCO Shipping International (Hong Kong)
  3. ^ As of 2020, the company is known as COSCO Shipping Ports
  4. ^ As of 2020, the company is known as COSCO Shipping International (Singapore)
  5. ^ COSCO Development and COSCO Shipping Development are not the same company. As of 2020, the listed company that formerly known as COSCO Development, is known as Shanghai Wanye Enterprises and no longer a real estate company
  6. ^ COSCO Shipping Co., Ltd. and China COSCO Shipping are not the same company. China COSCO Shipping is the ultimate parent company of the group. After the 2015 merger, COSCO Shipping Co., Ltd. was renamed COSCO Shipping Specialized Carriers Co., Ltd.


  • Kasic, Christopher (2012). Hill, Karen (ed.). "China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company". International Directory of Company History. Gale. 128.
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  3. ^ "Donation Archived 2011-07-27 at the Wayback Machine". COSCO. May 21, 2008.
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  5. ^ COSCO Group Archived 2008-05-29 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Alphaliner TOP 100". January 2019.
  7. ^ Dooley, Howard J. (Spring–Summer 2012). "The Great Leap Outward: China's Maritime Renaissance". The Journal of East Asian Affairs. Institute for National Security Strategy. 26 (1): 57. JSTOR 23257908.
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  26. ^ "Candidates buoyed by successful run of IPOs". South China Morning Post. Hong Kong. August 8, 2005. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
  27. ^ Tsang, Denise (30 June 2007). "Shipping giant's A-share IPO raises 15b yuan". South China Morning Post. Hong Kong. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
  28. ^ 关于中国远洋运输(集团)总公司与中国外轮理货总公司重组的通报 (Press release) (in Chinese (China)). 企业改革局 of the SASAC of the State Council. March 7, 2005. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
  29. ^ 国酒茅台上榜全球市值前500强. 贵州都市报 (in Chinese (China)). July 29, 2008. Retrieved December 19, 2020 – via Sina news portal.
  30. ^ "China shipping groups merger plan erases S$1.27b in market value, Cosco Corp Singapore hit". The Straits Times. Singapore. Bloomberg. December 14, 2015. Retrieved December 12, 2020.
  31. ^ 关于控股股东改制更名及相关工商登记事项变更的公告 (PDF) (Press release) (in Chinese (China)). COSCO Shipping Holdings. December 13, 2017. Retrieved December 12, 2020 – via
  32. ^ "Fleet". COSCO Group. Archived from the original on 29 March 2010. Retrieved 4 April 2010.
  33. ^ 中远中海合并方案将很快出台 集运将成整合重点. China Securities Journal (in Chinese (China)). 11 December 2015. Retrieved 20 December 2020 – via
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  35. ^ a b "Directors' Report" (PDF). 2015 Annual Report (Report). COSCO International. 2016. p. 114. Retrieved 20 December 2020.
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  37. ^ "Changes in Share Capital and Information on Shareholders" (PDF). 2015 Annual Report (Report). China International Marine Containers. 2016. p. 113. Retrieved 20 December 2020 – via
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  39. ^ "Taiwan Airline to Invest in a China Eastern Unit". The New York Times. September 8, 2000. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
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External links[edit]