Zhang Liping

ZhangLi ping

Zhang Liping is General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party of the Fengxian District of Shanghai.

Recently, Zhang Liping led a delegation to the Cannes Boat Show, where he was interviewed by BYM News’ industrial editor, Aldous Grenville-Crowther.

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AG-C. Should investment in China be done now, or in 10 years time, when the infrastructure for boat manufacturing companies is more established?

ZL. You know, although the boating is very expensive, with high prices of the boat, now in China there are a lot of rich persons. They have the ability to buy the boat for yachting, so I think they are ready to buy now and not ten years later, especially because the projection of yachting is rising rapidly.

AG-C. Do you have Chinese investors in your Fengxian Yacht City project?

ZL. Most of the investment in our project is from western foreigners.

AG-C. Yachting activities need an infrastructure to service them, does this yet exist in China?

ZL. On the side of Government, we are doing our best to promote the yachting economics for this project, so we have set up a computer study of yachting. With our western investors and those from Taiwan and the mainland, we are setting up a joint venture to promote that part of the project. We intend to build a complete city of yachting and the planning is starting to make that dream true.

AG-C. The European boating industry includes a large number of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Will it be possible for an SME to establish a base in Fengxian, or is this really only a place for large companies?

ZL. You know our plan is to promote the boating economy step-by-step. We already have more than ten investors from western countries that have an interest in establishing bases and have plans to manufacture in our bases. I think that more and more investor SMEs will become interested in Shanghai and Fengxian.

AG-C. Do you have training schemes for young people wanting a career in the yachting industry?

ZL. Training organisations are already appearing in Shanghai. There is one organisation that is already training people who want to have a (boat) driving licence and some universities, like the Ocean Affairs University, have courses to develop the future captains. We want in the future for China to have more and more training organisations and we will encourage schools to set up to train young people for the yachting industry and also how to drive in the yachting sports.

AG-C. Much of the work of building a boat is done by hand, so a skilled labour base is very important for a company wanting to invest in a manufacturing plant. Does such a labour base exist in the Fengxian region?

ZL. We have already skilled people and, as you know, investors already exist in Fengxian and they have found they can send engineers and technicians, from western countries and Taiwan, who can, very quickly and easily, train local labour for specialist skills. It is not difficult for the local labour to master the skills of manufacturing boats and we already have investors in Fengxian with the ability to build yachts and some yachts, of up to 68 feet, have already been exported abroad. So we already have the ability to build yachts in Fengxian and the ability to train our labour so the labour base is no problem for an investor in Fengxian.

AG-C. One last question; I have been told that the water around Shanghai is very polluted. Is this true, or not?

ZL. As you know the water around Shanghai is from the Yangtze river, which carries a lot of sand and earth in the water, so the colour of the water looks yellow, but it does not mean it is polluted heavily.

AG-C. Thank you, Zhang Liping, for talking to BYM News.