Is it qualified to be an “international shipping center” with more big berths, increasing cargo throughput and one title marked as “shipping center”?
Shipping Center Construction Hustle?
In June, the “Twelfth Five-Year Plan” of Shenzhen Marine Economy Development has been issued. The plan specifies to build Shenzhen city into a world-class traffic hub and develop an international shipping center together with HongKong. Before Shenzhen’s plan, Dalian Northeastern Asia International Shipping Center, Shanghai International Financial and Shipping Center, Qingdao Northeastern Asia International Comprehensive Shipping Hub and International Logistics Center, Tianjin Northern International Shipping Center, and Xiamen Southeastern International Shipping Center have been approved by Chinese government successively.
Chinese port cities are all striving for the title of “international shipping center”. Is it just a follow-up behavior or a phenomenon with deeper reasons? A specialist believes that benefiting from international shipping center construction, those port cities can obtain policy support and funds so as to promote the development of local shipping industry and regional economy. Meanwhile, the period of the twelfth five-year plan is the golden time for the fast development of China’s transportation industry. The large-scale transportation development will be hard if this period is missed. A series of preferential policies are carried out like tax relief at the port of departure and exemption of business tax, contributing to the construction of shipping center. All the factors above result in the hustle of international shipping center development.
The widely accepted international shipping centers have gone through a long-term development process. China’s shipping center construction desperately thirsts for a shortcut to success regardless of step-by-step development. A specialist from Shanghai Maritime University holds that the shipping center construction itself is not to blame. The problem lies in blind expansion and total reliance on shipping center development to promote economy. It will lead to the waste of resource.
It requires a gradual process to develop shipping center.
There are two different understandings about “internationality” of shipping center: One refers to internationality of business, while the other means internationality of function. Specialists from Shanghai Maritime University suggest that many port cities mistake the internationality of business as internationality of function. The infrastructure of Shanghai Port has reached world-class level while the soft environment including maritime arbitration is still lagging behind. Those account for the weaker comprehensive competitive strength of Shanghai International Shipping Center than that of London and Hong Kong. Although London is unfavorable in port facilities and cargo throughput, it is at a dominating position in shipping industry with the world largest shipping exchange, the most famous classification society, maritime consultancy, insurance firms and favorable shipping financing market, guiding the trend of global shipping market.
The specialist also points out that international shipping centers are all port cities in developed countries with a long history and play an integrated role of economic, trade and financial center with outstanding geographic advantages. “Rome was not built in one day. The same applies to China’s international shipping center construction. Neither government plan nor empty slogan can build an international shipping center.”
More emphasis should be attached to resource condition and soft environment.
Compared with widely accepted shipping center, there exists a misunderstanding in the development of China’s shipping centers. “Those that should follow the international standard fail to do so while those that should explore a Chinese model gear to international practice. Many policies and actions just focus on superficial phenomenon without delving into principles in depth, taking cargo throughput for instance.” A specialist points out straightly.
In 2008, Port of London was not listed in the ranking of top 100 ports concerning cargo throughput and Port of New York only ranked 20th, Port of Singapore 1st, Port of Hong Kong 3rd and Port of Rotterdam 9th. The super ports with substantial cargo throughput shares common points. Singapore and Hong Kong are located at the intersection of continents or ocean while Rotterdam lies at a critical place that cargo must pass through in order to get somewhere else in Europe. China’s inland ports don’t posses all these favorable conditions.
“China is a country with great shipping demand, but China’s ship finance is dealt in London, New York, Hamburg, Singapore, Hong Kong and so on; Therefore, the weak point in the development of China’s shipping centers is the modern shipping service with advanced technology, high added value, rich human resources and active integration.” Based on the proven experience of internationally-renowned shipping centers, the construction of China’ shipping center should integrate various elements of trade, shipping, finance, law, consulting, insurance as well as talent and build high-level shipping service industry propelled by the economy of knowledge so as to continuously improve the soft power of shipping.
It can be safely concluded that Chinese shipping pattern should be characterized by one to two international shipping centers and several regional shipping centers.“The function of center will be less obvious with a downgraded international influence if there are many shipping centers. The development of regional shipping centers will contribute to regional shipping industry and regional economy and plays a supplementary role in the construction of China’s international shipping centers. Such a rational pattern can raise the radiating power of Chinese shipping centers.”