By MICHAEL WELCHReuters/Reuters – LONDON, July 11 (Reuters) – Chinese companies are using technology that lets them save money on the cost of cleaning their own ships by buying ships from other countries, cutting costs and making sure they have plenty of cleaning supplies.
The Chinese government said on Thursday it is opening up more than half a billion dollars ($5.6 billion) in loans to Chinese companies to boost ship maintenance and repairs, which have been the backbone of China’s export growth for more than a decade.
The money will go to buy new ships and shipyards, and allow them to make faster and more reliable repairs, the Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported.
The government said it would help companies to keep their ships running, as well as repair problems and safety concerns that could arise in the event of a shipwreck.
China is a major ship-building and shipping market, with more than 70 percent of its ships built overseas.
But the government is keen to diversify its economy to reduce its reliance on its traditional exports of steel and rubber, cement and aluminium.
Last month, it announced a new program to upgrade the quality of vessels in its fleet, including a $5 billion loan to the Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Association, an association of shipbuilders, for the first time.
The program will include a new fleet management and maintenance system and a new service to ship owners.
“China’s ship-clearing system is one of the most complex and costly in the world, and our industry is trying to develop the most efficient and cost-effective cleaning system possible, Xinhua said in a statement.”
This will make it easier for us to maintain the quality and performance of our ships, making them the envy, not only of our international competitors, but also of the global community.
“A spokesman for the Shipping Ministry in Beijing declined to comment.
But the China Shipbuilding Industry Association said its members had invested in ship maintenance for decades and the new program will help to boost production.”
The new program for ship-cleanliness is expected to increase production and reduce the cost and time required for ships to be cleaned,” said the group’s president, Li Jun.
China has been building ships for decades to supply its massive export markets and the government has been trying to diversification of its economy in recent years.
China imported $5.3 trillion of raw materials in 2016 and has more than 30 shipyards and over 100 shipyards.
The United States has built warships that are manufactured by China and other countries.
In 2016, the United States imported more than $1 trillion of materials from China, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data.
But it has also invested in more than 60 U.N.-sanctioned projects that provide jobs for local workers, and in the United Nations-sponsored U.C.R.E. programme, which offers grants for Chinese companies.
China, with a population of nearly 8.3 billion people, is one the world’s largest importers of manufactured goods.
Its shipbuilding sector accounts for almost one-third of total exports.
The country exports almost all of its steel and almost all its cement, and exports nearly all of the metals it uses.
It also exports a growing share of its aircraft, submarines, missiles and warships.
The number of Chinese vessels and the number of its people is growing, and China is expanding its military capabilities, particularly its navy, according the United Nation’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
China also has been investing heavily in research and development in shipbuilding and shipbuilding automation.
In a bid to diversiate its economy, China has also built the world first artificial sea wall, a concrete wall that separates a lake from a shore.
The wall, which is being built on the shore of Lake Tanganyika in the Yellow Sea, will be built around China’s biggest artificial island, called Pingan, which lies some 100 kilometers (62 miles) south of Shanghai.
It is expected the artificial island will eventually serve as a military headquarters, a naval base, a port and a military training ground.