China has become the world's largest shipowner.

Data show that as of August, the fleet owned by Chinese shipowners reached 8.2 million gross tons, surpassing Greece, which has long been "dominant" in terms of total tons. As the ancient Greek philosopher Plato once said: "We live around the sea, like frogs around a pond", the unique geographical location makes Greece have a long maritime history and strong shipping strength. In contrast, China, once dominated by agricultural civilization, is not easy to "come later" in the shipping field.

The shipowner is the rightful holder of the Certificate of Ownership of the Ship and the person who legally owns the sovereignty of the ship, and the State of owner is the State in which these sovereign persons of the ship are located. Being the world's largest shipowner means that the country has the largest fleet in the world.

24116TEU ultra-large container ship "Mediterranean Jima", named and delivered at the China Ship Changxing Shipbuilding Base. Photo by Zhang Li

Why calculate the size of the fleet in "gross tonnage"?

"The units of measurement of ships are gross tonnage, net tonnage, deadweight tonnage, etc., and gross tonnage is the concept of volume, that is, how much enclosed space the ship has." Zhang Shouguo, executive vice president of the China Shipowners Association, introduced that compared with the quantity, the weight of the ship can better reflect the strength of the fleet, "There are many types of ships, and the weight is also different, ranging from tens of tons to hundreds of tons, generally speaking, the larger the ship, the greater the contribution to transportation." ”

Aerial photograph of the first ship of the 15500TEU large container ship project "Maersk Charleston" Photo by Zhang Li

"It's not that we are so happy that we want to be the first, so we work hard to build ships, but because we have come here objectively at the level." Zhang Shouguo said, "The core and essence of China's emergence as the world's largest shipowner is because of China's economic development. As the world's second largest economy, China's shipping mainly serves trade, and we have this demand. ”

Zhang Yongfeng, secretary of the Shanghai International Shipping Research Center, also holds this view, he believes that the continuous growth of China's trade in goods in recent years is an important basis, "China has become the world's largest cargo country since 2012, in theory we should match a fairly large fleet." ”

Staff wait at the dock for China's first large cruise ship to dock. Photo by China News Network reporter Yin Liqin

Ma Jiantang, member of the Standing Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and deputy director of the Economic Committee, pointed out that China has a large-scale consumer market, which provides a broad space for the development of international shipping centers, "China is a global manufacturing country, but also the world's largest importer and consumer of energy resources, soybeans, iron ore, crude oil, natural gas, copper and aluminum ore consumption has increased rapidly, and the import dependence of some primary products has exceeded 70%. ”

Economic and trade partners tend to be diversified

China's economic and trade partners are becoming more diversified, and international shipping centers are needed to provide stronger global connectivity guarantees. At present, China has established route connections with more than 100 countries and regions, the service network has been continuously improved, and the maritime connectivity is leading in the world. China's port cargo throughput and container throughput have ranked first in the world for many consecutive years, and China occupies 8 and 7 seats in the world's top ten ports in port throughput and container throughput.

In the past decade, the annual trade volume between China and the countries jointly built by the "Belt and Road" has increased from US$1.04 trillion to US$2.07 trillion, an average annual growth of 8.6%, and two-way investment with countries along the route has exceeded US$2700 billion.

Aerial photograph of Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding Co., Ltd. Photo courtesy of Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding Co., Ltd

China's shipbuilding capacity ranks first in the world

In Zhang's view, China's shipbuilding capabilities also provide support for China to build a world-class fleet.

By the end of 2010, China had become the world's largest shipbuilding country. This year, CSSC accounted for 18.6% of the world's completed deliveries, ranking first among global shipbuilding enterprises.

Data show that in the first half of this year, China's shipbuilding industry completed 2113.1 million deadweight tons, a year-on-year increase of 14.2%; The number of new orders received was 3766.9 million dwt, a year-on-year increase of 67.7%; Handheld orders were 12377.20 million dwt, a year-on-year increase of 5.72%. Not only did the shipbuilding industry continue to lead the world, but China's new orders accounted for 6.<>% of the international market share in the first half of this year.

At the end of this year, China's first large cruise ship is expected to be delivered, when China will collect the "three crown jewels" of the shipbuilding industry - aircraft carriers, large liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers, and large cruise ships.

Aerial photography of China's first large-scale cruise ship completed all verification items of sea trials and returned to Shanghai. Photo by China News Network reporter Yin Liqin

Shipping finance is developing rapidly

The modern financial industry began with the development needs of the shipping industry, and as a capital-intensive industry, the shipping industry also relies on the support of the financial system.

Since 2008, the world's shipping center has gradually shifted from Europe to Asia, and China's shipping industry and shipping financial market have ushered in good opportunities. In recent years, the international market share of the three major indicators of China's shipbuilding industry has jumped and maintained the first place in the world, and Chinese-funded financial institutions, especially domestic financial leasing companies, have taken advantage of the situation and continued to increase financial support for the shipping industry.

Wang Wenjin, director of business of Bank of Communications, said that by the end of 2022, the scale of ship assets of Chinese-funded financial institutions had grown rapidly to nearly US$1300 billion, of which the ship assets of domestic leasing companies were nearly US$1000 billion, accounting for nearly 25% of the world, and financial leasing has become the second largest shipping financing method after bank loans.

11,4 tons of Afra type product tanker. Photo courtesy of Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding Co., Ltd

"Of course, I think there is also a key factor, that is, the improvement of China's overall product competitiveness in the world." Zhang Yongfeng said that shipping trade and transportation discourse power have a certain relationship, many multinational companies often choose multinational companies and cargo owners with brand labeling when designating carriers or chartering ships, "China's continuous transformation and upgrading of industries has also enhanced brand discourse power and bargaining power." ”

"Of course, China still has a lot of room for development as the largest shipowner." Zhang Shouguo told reporters that whether it is a shipping "big country" or a "strong country", China must benchmark against the world's top level and continue to improve the construction of shipping soft power, which is one of the ways for China's shipping to "go to the next level".

Author: Xie Mengyuan Li Qiuying

Source: China News Service WeChat public account