Sea Transportation: August 15, 2005


In ten years, China has gone from a minor ship builder, to the third largest on the planet. In 2004, Japanese shipyards got 35 percent of new orders (by weight) for merchant ships, South Korea 34 percent and China 17 percent. Thats 86 percent of the worlds shipbuilding concentrated in East Asia. Chinese growth has been spectacular, averaging 26 percent a year over the last five years. China did this not just with cheap labor, but also by developing technical expertise. China can now build ships up to 300,000 tons. This effort is driven by Chinas growing export trade. Currently, about a quarter of the worlds exports are Chinese, and China wants this stuff carried in Chinese built and controlled ships. Same with oil. China imports over 50 percent of what it uses, most of it is carried in Chinese tankers. China uses the profits, and technical capabilities, gained from all this activity, to build warships. In China, commercial and military ships are often built at the same facilities, or adjoining ones. With a growing merchant marine, China wants to build a navy powerful enough to protect it.


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