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The 50th anniversary of the metal box that changed Hong Kong

Next week (Tuesday 30July) marks the 50th anniversary of Hong Kong’s container trade which transformed the economy and landscape of the city.

When the SS San Juan berthed at Ocean Terminal in Kowloon on the evening of July 30th, 1969, it was the first scheduled service for a container ship in Hong Kong. It marked the start of container shipping in Hong Kong and it catalysed an explosion in Hong Kong’s international trade.

These modular metal boxes revolutionised the way cargo was shipped. They shortened turnaround time, reduced shipping costs and meant that goods no longer went from port to port but from factory to customer. This new form of maritime trade allowed Hong Kong to expand to become the biggest port in the world and today, its port still handles more container cargo than Rotterdam and New York combined.