Chinese Shipping Lanes

As can be read in the article The 10 Largest Ports of China, China is accounting for more than 1/5 of the world’s 50 biggest ports Furthermore, it states that the biggest harbours are to be found on the East Coast of China. The ships that leave from this part of China predominantly make use of three different lanes: the Pacific, the Atlantic, and the Indian Ocean lane. Recently, global warming has enabled a fourth option: the Arctic lane. This blog and the attached maps will elaborate on all the Chinese shipping lanes in broad terms.

When taking the Pacific lane, the ships will go through the south of the East China Sea. Then they go northward through the Sea of Japan through the Okhotsk to enter the North Pacific Ocean. Via this route the ships can reach the west of Latin America, the west of the U.S., New Zealand, Australia and western Canada.

In addition, numerous Chinese ships will take the Atlantic lane. In this case, the ships will go in a southern direction from China, and sail via the Indian Ocean and the Cape of Good Hope. Consequently, the ships can set direction to Western Europe, the East Coast of the U.S., the Suez Canal, the Gulf and the Mediterranean area. Also, the ships can transfer to the Pacific lane to set sail to the destinations mentioned in the previous paragraph.

A third route the ships are often taking is the Indian Ocean lane. This route is often used for oil transport. The lane enables the Chinese to reach the Persian Gulf, East Africa, Western Europe and North America by setting sail towards the Cape of Good Hope.


Since recent times, China is focusing on a fourth option, namely the Arctic lane. After being fabled for centuries, the route is now accessible due to recent global warming. The ice on the route is melting swiftly and this enables Chinese ships to take quicker routes to the West. The Chinese government is investing aggressively in the newfound option, and have sent their first ship to successfully cross the new lane already in 2012.

Arctic shipping routes

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