China Surpasses Greece to Become World’s Largest Maritime Fleet Owner

Imagen Asia Times

In a significant shift of global maritime dynamics, China has dethroned Greece as the world’s largest maritime fleet owner, according to a report by Clarksons Research, the prominent global shipping information provider. The rise of China to this maritime supremacy is attributed to its status as a manufacturing powerhouse, robust cargo trade, and substantial financial backing for the shipping sector, as stated by industry analysts.

For a decade, Greece held the esteemed position as the leading maritime fleet owner. However, China’s evolution as the epicenter of global manufacturing, coupled with its unwavering cargo trade and substantial financial support, propelled it to the forefront of the maritime industry.

Recent rankings from Clarksons Research unveiled that the Chinese-owned fleet now stands at an impressive 249.2 million gross tonnage (GT), surpassing Greece, which secured the second spot with 249 million GT. Japan followed in third place with 181 million GT.

Experts have emphasized that these rankings are in line with expectations, given China’s enduring stature as a major production hub and other favorable contributing factors.

Li Yanqing, the secretary-general of the China Association of the National Shipbuilding Industry, emphasized, “China’s shipping industry has been in a continuous state of development, and our role as the world’s largest manufacturing hub remains steadfast. These factors contribute to the high ranking.”

During the first half of 2023, Chinese shipyards accomplished an impressive feat by completing 21.13 million deadweight tons (DWT) of new ships, marking a substantial 14.2 percent year-on-year increase, as reported by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in July.

Furthermore, new orders for ships surged to an astonishing 37.67 million DWT, indicating a remarkable 67.7 percent increase, while existing orders reached 123.77 million DWT, growing by 20.5 percent. These encouraging indicators firmly established China’s position as the leading global maritime fleet owner.

“As China’s fleet expands, the demand for new ships naturally rises … our shipbuilding industry is fully capable of meeting domestic demand, and more than 70 percent of our new orders come from foreign countries,” Li Yanqing affirmed.

China pursues prominence in global economy and trade

Beneath the surface of this fleet supremacy lies China’s unyielding prominence in the global economy and international trade.

An industry insider, who chose to remain anonymous, commented, “China’s economic influence in the world is increasing, with trade having become a big driver of shipping capacity.” This shift is underscored by China’s consistent surge in importing dry bulk cargo and its sustained high demand for containerized goods, propelling rapid growth in bulk cargo ships and container vessels.

China’s robust financial sector support has played a pivotal role in fostering the expansion of the shipping industry, particularly through the growth of leasing companies.

However, while China has emerged as the leader in total tonnage, Greece still retains dominance in terms of deadweight tonnage (DWT). Xu Kai, Chief Information Officer of the Shanghai International Shipping Institute, explained, “This could primarily be due to the higher proportion of containerships in China’s fleet.”

As China continues to steer its maritime industry forward, these developments herald a new era of maritime dominance, backed by its manufacturing prowess, resilient trade, and strategic investments. The world’s maritime landscape is undergoing a transformative shift, with China at the helm.

Sources: The Global Times, Clarksons

Source The Global Times

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