Shipping lines plying the China market are reporting almost complete acceptance of the across-the-board terminal handling charges (THC) they implemented at state-regulated ports on January 15. According to one executive, there were initial pockets of resistance in Fuzhou but those have faded, despite China shippers threatening to boycott the first shipping line to implement the THC. 'We have seen very high acceptance rates for the THC across the provinces where it was applied, 90 per cent plus. It has pretty much been universally applied except for the goods under contracts negotiated prior to January 15,' the executive said. The lines say they levy the THC to recover the cost of calling at a port. For example, ports under the control of the Ministry of Communications levy a per-box terminal charge, which the ministry raised 15 per cent at the beginning of the year. Depending on the port, the charges range from 300-500 yuan (about HK$282-$470) per teu (20-foot equivalent unit), and jump 50 per cent for 40-ft boxes. The lines responded in January by implementing 370 yuan THC per teu and 560 yuan for 40-ft boxes. But while China's shippers appear compliant, the China Shippers Association (CSA) on Monday asked the ministry to look into the legality of the way the THC was applied, according to industry sources. The CSA's contention is that the THC was unilaterally applied by the lines, which would be contrary to shipping regulations passed at the beginning of this year. If the lines were found to have colluded in the THC's implementation, there would be grounds for legal action to have it removed. 'I don't think this is over yet,' said Sunny Ho Lap-kee, executive director of the Hong Kong Shippers Council. Mr Ho said the CSA would be watching the results of a meeting on March 27 between the Japan Shippers Council (JSC) and member lines from Westbound Transpacific Stabilisation Agreement, which are attempting to increase the THC by 75 per cent for traffic moving to the United States. The JSC is making similar anti-competition claims. Mr Ho said: 'It is true the two countries have two separate legal frameworks. But there are definitely similarities in the languages of their anti-competition regulations.'