Port authorities believed that Qingdao would topple last year's busiest port ? Tianjin ? through an ability to cater for the latest generation of deep-draughted container-ships, and general cargo vessels.
The port is capable of handling vessels up to 15m tonnes in draught within a day, while Tianjin is hard pushed to cope with more than 12m tonnes. In 1995 Tianjin and Qingdao were the second and third-busiest ports in the whole of China with container throughputs of 700,000 teu and 600,000 teu respectively (Shanghai was the busiest port). But preliminary figures from the ports, lead Hong Kong-based Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL) to predict that Qingdao will handle 810,000 teu in 1996, eclipsing Tianjin's 800,000 teu.
Qingdao's ability to cater for modern containerships has brought it success on the mainhaul routes. As well as OOCL, Zim Israel and Compagnie Maritime d'Affretement have also started using the port on a regular basis.
Top slot in 1996 will again go to Shanghai with 1.9m teu, although it has also had problems catering for larger tonnage.
OOCL reported that of the three alternatives on offer to ensure the Yangtze delta maintains its leading status, the most likely to win central government approval is an idea to form a port development company jointly owned by the port authorities and Shanghai municipality and Zhejiang province. Under such a structure, a new port would be built adjacent to the city of Ningbo. Providing urgently required deep-draughted facilities, there is little doubt that such a port would cater for long-term demand. In this case, Shanghai would maintain its role as the principal handler of medium-sized tonnage.
In fourth place during 1996, the northern port of Dalian was expected to record a throughput of 450,000 teu. Xiamen in Fujian province was expected to handle 400,000 teu, up from under 100,000 a few years ago. One of the biggest increases was expected to be recorded by Yantian in Shenzhen. Here, Yantian International Container Terminals will handle 300,000 teu in 1996, compared with 100,000 in 1995.