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Automatic technology gives big boost to ports

China has become a powerhouse in ocean freight and the construction of automatic ports, and will continue to improve its marine transportation services and the welfare of its many seamen, Vice-Minister of Transport Zhao Chongjiu said.

The nation’s ports handled about 14.6 billion metric tons of cargo and 260 million containers last year, more than any other country, Zhao told a news conference in Beijing.

He said China possesses innovative and state-of-the-art technology in the construction of automatic ports, where the loading and unloading of cargo is conducted without human intervention.

“By 2020, we’d built nine container ports supported by automatic technology with another seven under construction,” he said. “These ports are designed and built using world-class automatic technology.”

The stable economy and independently developed technology have secured marine transportation and ocean freight operations, protecting them from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and some international emergencies.

Zhao said China registered surges in imports and exports at a time when many other countries and regions saw their industrial and supply chains hit hard by the pandemic.

“But we did face some emergencies. For example, the grounding accident in the Suez Canal in March led to the suspension of canal transportation for six days, which lowered our efficiency,” he said. “The pandemic also had some effects due to the closed management of ports and quarantine measures for seamen.”

Zhao said the ministry has sought to secure marine transportation by promoting vaccination and enhancing the protection of seamen’s health. It also gave advice to companies to help them transport key supplies and coordinated the supply of containers to meet the demands of shipping lines.

China is also stepping up efforts to push forward with the high-quality development of marine transportation.

The ministry said it will make up for shortfalls in infrastructure and high-level shipping services such as ocean freight insurance and maritime arbitration. It will continue to optimize the development of the ocean freight environment to invigorate the market and attract more talent to the sector.

The ministry also stressed the importance of eco-friendly and smart ocean freight, saying it will build a clean and low-carbon energy system for the operation of ports and speed up the construction of smart ports supported by automatic and information technologies.

The ministry will also channel more resources into securing the welfare of the country’s growing number of seamen.

Cao Desheng, director of the Maritime Safety Administration, told the news conference China had nearly 1.72 million seamen by the end of last year, a year-on-year rise of 3.5 percent and more than any other country.

“Last month, we released a guideline (with five other ministries and administrations) focusing on nurturing high-quality seamen by improving their working environment, promotion channels and also their working capability,” he said.

China’s seaman’s certificate is recognized by 27 countries and regions, he added.
Source: China Daily

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