Taiping was packed to nearly twice her rated capacity, carrying over 1,000 refugees fleeing advancing Chinese Communist forces during the Chinese Civil War, when she departed Shanghai, China, on 26 January 1949, bound for Keelung, Taiwan. Some estimates put the number of passengers on board at over 1,500, although the ship was only rated to carry 580 passengers.
After midnight on 27 January 1949, Taiping was steaming at night with her lights out, owing to a curfew, when she collided with the smaller cargo ship Chienyuan near the Zhoushan Archipelago. She sank, killing over 1,500 passengers and crew members.
Taiping, which made multiple journeys between mainland China and Taiwan before her tragic end, has been compared to the Mayflower for her role in bringing Chinese immigrants to Taiwan. She has also been compared to RMS Titanic, which sank in 1912, owing to the similar loss of life in her sinking. A memorial to the ship and those who died aboard her was established at Keelung Harbor naval base on Taiwan.
In popular culture
- Letu, Xinji. 8 July 2011. "The Sinking of the Chinese Titanic" Beijing Today. p. 14.
- Iok-sin, Loa (28 January 2008). "Taiping sinking recalled". Taipei Times. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
- Hsu, Jenny W. (18 January 2009). "Descendants of victims mark Taiping tragedy". Taipei Times. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
- Lee, Maggie (4 December 2014). "Film Review: The Crossing: Part 1". Variety. Retrieved 26 January 2015.