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Market-based maritime legal system supported
( 2003-11-01 09:27) (China Daily)

Vice-Minister of Communications Hong Shanxiang said on Friday that China will develop a legal system for shipping and ports in line with the market economy in order to further ensure the fast development of its maritime transport industry.

"The legal system should be in conformity with international practices and encourage fair competition,'' Hong said at the International Maritime Forum 2003.

Around 300 participants from the United States, Japan, Denmark, South Korea and other countries are taking part in the forum which is being held under the title of "the new trend of development of international maritime transport policies in the new century.''

Hong said WTO entry means China is facing new requirements for its maritime legal system.

"The process should be accelerated to improve or formulate laws to meet the WTO rules and international practice,'' he said.

"Our purpose is to create an environment of competitiveness, openness and transparency for the international maritime transport industry.''

More foreign investors will be invited to build port facilities and set up businesses in China, he said.

At present, vessels from more than 80 foreign container lines have liner routes to and from Chinese ports.

The Chinese mainland now has 1,460 ports with more than 130 open to the outside world. Last year it handled 2.68 billion tons of cargo and 37 million 20-foot containers.

China will further improve its maritime transport infrastructure facilities to meet the demands of economic development and foreign trade.

"The nation's ports will be restructured with an eye to the construction of the Shanghai international shipping centre, the Yangshan deep-water port and the Shanghai combination ports,'' Hong said.

Xu Peixing, director of Shanghai Port Administration, said the central government has decided to build Shanghai into an international shipping centre for Northeast Asia.

The city's Yangshan deep-water port located in Zhejiang Province will cover an area of 30 square kilometres with a 20-kilometre-long coastal line for more than 50 container berths.

It is designed to handle 20 million 20-foot containers annually when it is fully completed, Xu said.

Meanwhile, Hong said China will also develop port clusters at the Yangtze River Delta, the Pearl River Delta and around the Bohai Bay.

The Chinese Government has established a consultative mechanism with the maritime authorities of the United States, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the European Union.

"Sino-Korean maritime talks had just been concluded before the forum,'' he said.

China and the European Union officially signed a maritime agreement last December, indicating that mutual co-operation in this field has entered a new phase.

"China-EU maritime talks will be held in the city to discuss matters of common concern immediately after the forum,'' the vice-minister said.

"As the EU's third-largest trading partner, the Chinese market is of key interest to European shipping companies,'' said Jacques Michaux, deputy head of EU's Unit Maritime Policy and Technology.

China and the EU, being two major trading and maritime powers, are entering a new era towards strengthening their co-operation in the maritime sector, Michaux said.

The Chinese Government also signed a new maritime agreement in San Francisco with the United States in July.

"Both sides will conclude the agreement soon, marking a good legal framework for the healthy development of the Sino-US maritime relations,'' Hong said.


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