Kuomintang Chairman Lien Chan's wife Lien Fang-Yu on Friday smashed a bottle on the first ship built on the mainland for a Taiwan-based shipowner.
The new bulk cargo carrier "China Peace" was built by the State-owned Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding Co Ltd and has a dead weight of 175,000 tons, the largest of its kind in the world.
"I name you China Peace. You carry with you joyous blessings from both sides of the Taiwan Straits and Hong Kong," said Lien at the naming ceremony.
"Filled to the brim with goods, cutting triumphantly through the waves, the journeys before you will bring radiance to trade. Behold! Sailing the vast seas in full majesty, your glorious future reflects the hopes for peace of all the Chinese peoples."
China Peace's owner is Peng Yin'gang, board chairman of the Chinese Maritime Transport Co Ltd and brother-in-law of former chief executive of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Tung Chee-hwa. Both high-profile figures attended Friday's ceremony.
Peng said he chose the name "China Peace" two years ago when his company signed a contract with Waigaoqiao, the largest shipbuilder in China.
"The fruitful visit by Lien Chan and Fang-Yu to the mainland in May is regarded as a journey of peace," said Peng. "Fang-Yu has extended the peaceful journey with the naming ceremony. Today's ship delivery is a milestone in the cooperation between the maritime transport and shipbuilding industries across the Taiwan Straits."
Peng said China Peace first set sail on Friday afternoon and he believed it would benefit both Taiwanese and mainland people.
Peng said he owed a lot to the Waigaoqiao shipyard, which finished the work 116 days ahead of time and did not charge more despite the recent steel price hikes.
The most important raw material for building of bulk cargo carriers, steel was around US$350 per ton when Peng signed the contract with Waigaoqiao in April 2003. It has soared to US$800 per ton.
Tung Chee-hwa, whose father C Y Tung is a world-famous shipping giant and the founder of Peng's company, said the delivery of the carrier was a significant event in China's shipbuilding industry, and had profound meaning for the Cross-Straits relationship.
Tung, now the vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said the mainland shipbuilding industry had made rapid progress over the past few years and had become one of the leading shipbuilders in the world.
Tung said both Hong Kong and Taiwan were important global maritime transport hubs and had large demand for various kinds of ship. He said he believed Hong Kong and Taiwan ship-owners would work more closely with mainland shipbuilders in the near future.
Vice mayor of Shanghai Hu Yanzhao said Taiwanese business people had carried out more than 5,500 projects in Shanghai by April, with a total contract investment of more than US$12 billion.
Between January and March this year, around 152,000 Taiwanese visited Shanghai, rising 10 per cent compared with the same period last year, Hu said.
(China Daily June 11, 2005)