Dalian in China is blessed with the reputable Maritime University affiliated with the World Maritime University in Malmo, Sweden. Dalian University is compatible to world standards as is the ship building industry which has grown to the extent that its newly built ships are competing with those from South Korea and Japan. The stringent quality standard of international classification societies are complied with to deliver a product inferior to none.
On my visit there I was amazed to see the Shenzhen Port, a once marshy land transformed into a container port handling 10 million TEU, with only 3.7 square kilometre of land. The port has a 22 metre draft and has handled the largest container ship of China Shipping – of 19100 TEU. The technology being used there is the most up-to-date. Those as sitting in the Yantin International Container Terminal (YICT) use joy-sticks to control the containers; there are no gantry operators. In-house built software is used, instead of branded ones, promising efficiency. The maximum time of a trailer in the port is restricted to 30 minutes, while train logistics are connected to the port as well.
It was interesting to see the YICT at the Shenzhen Port auto gate project, built on an electronic data interchange platform and an optical character recognition portal. The innovative 70 automatic in-gate and out-gate lanes enable precise transmission of information and rapid direction to yards, thus improving the terminals’ operational efficiency and ensuring timely departure of ships within eight hours. Yantian is an integrated bonded area, with off-dock warehouses too. YICT cranes are equipped with high pressure sodium lamps, which consume less electricity than conventional lamps.
The latest LED lamps are using 75 percent less electricity. The Shenzhen Port has 16 deep water container berths, 74 gantry cranes, 200 yard gantry cranes, with total berth length of 7885 meters. The world mega box ships are calling to this port which caters mainly to exports from China.
My study tour of the Maritime University, yards and ports are manifestation of the fact that in the past three decades, the structure of the global economy has undergone substantial changes in favour of emerging economies, with China topping the list. China is leading from the front by announcing setting up the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, along with other 20 Asian countries to help build trade related infrastructure.
The new bank of BRICS and the AIIB will provide fresh source of funding for developing economics, without depending on Bretton Woods institutions which place rigid conditions. The AIIB may be seen as a rival to the Asian Development Bank.
During my visit, I was briefed that China and Australia have signed an FTA and that the Yuan Clearing Bank is to be opened in Sydney. China has also achieved the first manmade river from south to north at the cost of $81 billion to feed the water-starved region.
I had always wondered how China had transformed so rapidly, but seeing is believing; the Shanghai Pudong financial district which was a farm land in 1980 has now become equally as attractive as Manhattan. Nanjing Road can be benchmarked to Times Square and Oxford Street.
Having seen the transformation I remember what Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz said in Vanity Fair magazine, ‘China enters to the top position in 2015 and will produce 17.6 trillion GDP this year. Thus a new global political and economic order is emerging’.
Martin Jacques, a British journalist and a well-known pundit on Chinese issues in a recent article published in the Financial Times argues that the western view on Chinese governance is flawed. China’s governance system has been successful for more than three decades with remarkable achievements in all faculties, be it maritime, town planning, electronics etc. He compliments thisachievement and praises the core of much wider change in Chinese society.
I found Chinese citizens attired in branded clothes and it is hard to see any traditional mindset in the urban centres, thanks to the reforms of Deng Xiao Peng. The economy does not exist in isolation from society.
The Chinese system of governance, as I observed, should be complimented for absorbing 30 percent rural population in urban centres, creating modern education, providing healthcare and housing – all to re-engineer and repurpose the state. My studies there revealed that there exists an extraordinary relationship between state and society going back about 2000 years. What I learnt from the Chinese is that the state is the fundamental expression of what China is and what the Chinese mean, unlike the west or other Asian countries governed by the Westminster model of sham democracy.