COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Danish shipping and oil group A.P. Moller-Maersk says a plan to create an alliance of the world’s three biggest container shipping operators has been scrapped after Chinese authorities blocked it.

Vincent Clerc of the Copenhagen-based company says the Chinese disapproval of the plan came as “a surprise to us.”

Clerc said Tuesday the alliance of Maersk, MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company S.A. and CMA CGM of France, “as initially planned will not come into existence.”

The proposed alliance, which had been okayed by U.S. and European authorities, was to be an independently operated network with 255 vessels and was set to start operations in late 2014.

The so-called P3 alliance was to operate a capacity of 2.6 million containers between Asia and Europe, across the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean.

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