China's mainland coast is over 18,000 km long, and its rivers total 220,000 km in length. Such excellent natural conditions provide convenience for developing inland river transport and ocean shipping. The major inland navigable rivers in China are the Yangtze, the Pearl, the Heilongjiang, the Huaihe, the Qiantang, the Minjiang and the Huangpu, not forgetting the Grand Canal between Beijing and Hangzhou. In 1999, navigable inland waterways in China totaled 110,300 km, the volume of cargo transportation was 2,126.3 billion tons/km, and the volume of passenger transportation was 10.73 billion persons/km.
Now there are more than 5,000 berths at some 70 major inland river ports. The Yangtze, the "golden waterway" of China's inland river transport, has considerable annual volume of both freight and passenger transport. Nanjing Harbor, the largest river harbor in China, has an annual capacity of more than 40 million tons. Ocean shipping in China is divided into two major navigation zones: the northern and the southern ones. The northern one has Shanghai and Dalian as the centers, and the southern one has Guangzhou as the center. Harbors (including inland river ports) built after 1978 have an annual capacity of 497.26 million tons. There are more than 20 major coastal harbors in China, with an annual capacity of 1.05 billion tons, and the passenger turnover of 64.01 million Shanghai Harbor ranks among the 10 largest trade harbors in the world, with an annual capacity of over 100 million tons. China has an ocean fleet with a capacity of 22 million tons of goods, sailing among 1,100 harbors worldwide.