The chart above is from Splash,
the maritime daily news outlet headed by Sam Chambers and Grant Rowles. Taken from a survey they conducted, it illuminates the impact that China has had on shipping, with environmental issues right behind. Tucked into the figure on non-shipping capital is the growth of Chinese leasing capital.
In 2004, I attended the Hellenic-Norwegian Chambers of Commerce New York shipping event. The opening keynote was an American educated, Chinese born shipowner who presented a global economic historical overview. He opened with the dominance of Europe (particularly the UK) until World War II, then the ascendency of the United States up to the year 2000. Then he began to recite statistics surrounding China: GDP growth, population, shipbuilding aspirations, ship ownership, import and export numbers, etc. I emailed a friend in Washington DC and asked, “Is there someone down there, who is a lot smarter than I am, paying attention to this?”. His response was “Unfortunately, no.”
Two years later, at the same event, I asked “Isn’t the growth of China’s shipowning fleet going to have an impact on Western fleets?” I was told they weren’t concerned about that. In 2008, the world witnessed what I term China’s “Coming out party”, the Summer Olympics in Beijing, which also marked the downturn in their extensive building and growth phase which had prompted the massive number of ships on order.
China has been very intentional in its quest to be a leading shipping nation. Students of history, or those who have read the books by Gavin Menzies, 1421 and 1434, know that China has a long and storied shipping and exploration history which had gone dormant. Essentially, China is returning to its roots. In addition, it is ensuring national security with the “One Belt One Road” strategy and investment in natural resources.
China is an intentional force in our industry. I wonder what the next decade will bring?