China's shipbuilding industry continues to lead global race

(People's Daily Online) 10:46, October 13, 2023

From January to August 2023, China's shipbuilding industry continued to top global rankings in three crucial categories -- shipbuilding output, new orders, and holding orders, which all reported double-digit growth .

The country's shipbuilding output accounted for 49 percent of the global market share during the period, while the sector's new orders and holding orders represented 68.8 percent and 53.9 percent of the world's total, respectively.

Photo shows large ships being built or for repair in the dock of a shipbuilding and repair company in Rongcheng city, east China's Shandong Province. (Photo/Li Xinjun)

Since the beginning of this year, several ships that involve high technologies, have high added value and lead the world have been delivered, including an 80,000-cubic-meter liquefied natural gas (LNG) carrier, which is the world's largest river-sea intermodal LNG carrier, and the first M350 type smart floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel in the world.

"In recent years, China's shipbuilding industry has significantly improved its ship design and R&D capabilities. We now can produce all mainstream vessel types in the world," said Li Yanqing, secretary general of the China Association of the National Shipbuilding Industry (CANSI).

On one hand, independent R&D capabilities have been enhanced and breakthroughs in key technologies have been continuously made. On the other, China has advanced intelligent transformation of its shipbuilding industry and improved efficiency in shipbuilding.

"Now it takes only around 180 days for us to build a very large crude carrier (VLCC), taking the lead globally," said Jiang Hongliang, head of the production management department of Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Co, Ltd. (DSIC), a subsidiary of China State Shipbuilding Industry Corporation Limited.

Over the past years, China's shipbuilding sector has made progress in intelligent shipbuilding.

According to CANSI, at present, the shipbuilding industry has seen significant improvements in the automation and digitalization of the manufacturing process. The rate of sharing 3D models for shipbuilding surges by over 80 percent, while the overall efficiency of production and design rises by more than 20 percent.

The past two years have witnessed a surge in market demand for car carriers thanks to the growth of global auto trade, especially China's auto exports. Guangzhou Shipyard International Company Limited (GSI) based in Guangzhou, south China's Guangdong Province, has seized the opportunity and received orders to build 25 car carriers. In the first half of 2023, Chinese shipbuilders, including GSI, received orders for 43 car carriers, accounting for 97.7 percent of the global market share during the same period.

"In the first half of this year, our company's orders grew 90 percent year on year, achieving sustained growth on a high base," said Zhou Xuhui, deputy general manager of GSI.

Zhou added that the company has contracts to build more than 70 ships in hand, which are worth over 50 billion yuan ($6.9 billion), of which nearly 40 totaled 20 billion yuan are methanol-powered dual-fuel and LNG dual-fuel ships with high added value. "The orders we receive now have been scheduled to be produced in 2026," Zhou said.

In the first six months of this year, Chinese shipbuilders maintained their leading position in bulk carriers, oil tankers and containerships, with their orders accounting for 88.4 percent, 74.6 percent and 74.6 percent of the global total, respectively.

During the same period, the main business income of 75 leading Chinese shipbuilding enterprises totaled 184.6 billion yuan, up 31 percent year on year, and their combined profits jumped 242.9 percent year on year to 7.56 billion yuan. The export value of their ships stood at $11.21 billion, a year-on-year increase of 7.7 percent.

It is estimated that China's shipbuilding output will surpass 42 million deadweight tons (dwt) this year, with new ship orders reaching 50 million dwt and holding orders at 120 million dwt.

To become a global shipbuilding powerhouse, China needs to optimize support industries to further enhance the stability of the industrial and supply chains of its shipbuilding sector, and enhance support to meet the employment demand of shipbuilders. The country also needs to plan early so that it can ensure the timely regulation of production capacity, and prevent overcapacity in the shipbuilding industry.

"Capability is the biggest strength of China's shipbuilding industry. The sector will continue to upgrade and move toward high-quality development by further accelerating the transition towards green and intelligent shipbuilding and improving independent design and industry-supporting capabilities," said Li.

(Web editor: Hongyu, Du Mingming)


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