Chinese regulators have blocked a planned alliance between three of the world’s biggest container shipping lines and the trio have canceled their plans.

Denmark’s A.P. Møller-Maersk's Maersk Line, CMA CGM of France (FR:CMA) and Swiss-based Mediterranean Shipping Co. had planned to form an operation called P3 Network, and it had already been approved by U.S. and European regulators. The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that China’s decision came as a surprise to the companies following the two earlier approvals.

"The decision does come as a surprise to us, of course, as the partners have worked hard to address all the regulators' concerns," Møller-Maersk CEO Nils Andersen said in a statement.

Maersk Drilling Global Operations Maersk has drilling operations around the world. Photo: Maersk

"The P3 partners take note of and respect MOFCOM's [Ministry of Commerce People's Republic of China] decision. Subsequently, the partners have agreed to stop the preparatory work on the P3 Network and the P3 Network as initially planned will not come into existence," Møller-Maersk said.

Møller-Maersk  (DK:MAERSKB), the world's largest shipping company,  is considered a bellwhether for the global economy because it owns about 15 percent of the world's container shipping capacity that carries 90 percent of world trade, Reuters said