The current flourishing world ship market has brought opportunities for China to strive to be the biggest shipbuilder with a sharp competitive edge in technological innovation rather than low-cost labor force, a shipbuilding guru said Sunday.
The growing orders from shipping companies worldwide will bring great business opportunities for Chinese shipbuilders, said He Rongguang, board chairman and general manager of the Bohai Shipbuilding Heavy Industry Co., Ltd.
He, a lawmaker attending the annual session of China's top legislature, said global orders for ships have topped 100 million deadweight tons for consecutive two years, and the demand is expected to remain at 60 million deadweight tons annually up to the year 2010.
China's growing need for foreign energy and mineral resources will surely spur Chinese shipping companies to expand their fleets.
Currently, the Republic of Korea (ROK) and Japan, two of the world's four shipbuilding giants, take about 70 percent of the world's shipbuilding market, with China and the European Union sharing 15 percent and 17 percent respectively.
Although it is very difficult for China to compete with the ROK and Japan, especially in such high-value added products as large liquefied natural gas and container carriers, the general manager is still optimistic about China's chance to become the world's biggest shipbuilder.
The draft outline of the country's next five-year development program, currently under deliberation at the national legislature, sets forth the goals of strengthening the shipbuilding industry by improving the capacity for the self-design of ships and marine equipment, and the infrastructure for building heavy ships.
"This is very important for the growth of China's shipbuilding industry," He said.
Facing more opportunities than challenges at the booming global ship market, the nation's shipbuilding industry should try to take more foreign and domestic orders and ensure enough orders for the year 2010, he said.
As the price of steel products has been a major factor affecting China's shipbuilding industry, the general manager urged shipbuilders to cooperate closely with steel makers to form a stable industrial chain.
He also called for vigorous development of other industries that provide supporting equipment, so that China will become not only the world's shipbuilding center, but also a manufacturing center of marine equipment.
(Xinhua News Agency March 13, 2006)