For Chinese businessman Han Changming, disruptions to Red Sea freight are threatening the survival of his trading company in the eastern province of Fujian.

Han, who exports Chinese-made cars to Africa and imports off-road vehicles from Europe, said the cost of shipping a container to Europe had surged to roughly $7,000 from $3,000 in December, when Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi movement escalated attacks on shipping.

"The disruptions have wiped out our already thin profits," said Han, adding that higher shipping-insurance premiums are also taking a toll on Fuzhou Han Changming International Trade, the company he founded in 2016.