THE president of the China State Shipbuilding Corp (CSSC) yesterday thanked the Hong Kong shipping community for supporting China's efforts to join the ranks of the world's top shipbuilding nations.
Speaking at a reception to mark the 12th anniversary of CSSC's Hong Kong subsidiary China United Shipbuilding Co (CUSBC), Wang Rongsheng said Hong Kong owners had ordered newbuildings from China ''one after another'' over the past four years.
More than 60 per cent of the orders for the 1.6 million deadweight tonnes (dwt) clinched by CUSBC since 1991 were placed by Hong Kong companies.
These included Island Navigation Corp, Far East Enterprising Co, World-Wide Shipping, Wah Kwong Shipping, Tai Chong Cheang Steamship, OAK Steamship, Continental Mariner and Pacific Basin.
He said CUSBC, as the first company of its kind set up overseas by CSSC, had become a bridge linking the markets at home and abroad for CSSC.
CUSBC has so far obtained export orders totalling 2.6 million dwt, representing more than one-third of the export orders received by CSSC.
He said CSSC had overcome the many hardships it had faced since the early 1980s, such as the severe depression in the world market as well as those brought along by the changes in China's economic structure.
Despite these difficulties, ''we still have ranked ourselves among the world's major shipbuilding nations and made considerable progress by braving the hardships with creative spirit and resolute perseverence''.
CSSC had benefited from the recovery of the world market over the past two years.
Production at CSSC yards, which broke the one million dwt mark in 1992, topped 1.3 million dwt last year and has been tipped to hit 1.5 million dwt this year.
''The target for our future development is to strive to rank among the world's major shipbuilding nations by 2000 by working hard in the next seven years to upgrade our ship designing, equipment availability and management capability,'' Mr Wang said.
''We are fully aware of how great an effort will be needed for hitting such a target.'' He said China still had ''a long way to go'' when compared with the major shipbuilding nations, such as Japan and Korea.
He said most of the expansion and modernisation projects undertaken at CSSC's five large shipyards - Jiangnan Shipyard, Dalian New Shipyard, Guangzhou Shipyard, Shanghai Shipyard and Hudong Shipyard - were expected to be completed this year.
The 200,000 dwt capacity dry dock at Dalian New Shipyard was also expected to be completed this year, increasing building capacity from 1.5 million dwt to 2.5 million dwt.
The construction of the dry dock, floating dock and repair quay for repairing 100,000 dwt ships has been started in Wenchong Shipyard, Chengxi Shipyard and Shanhaiguan Shipyard, respectively.
Ship repairing capacity will increase considerably when they begin operations this year and next year, he said.