“The river used to wind and was too shallow for big ships” Captain Lin Jiaquan recalls, perched on the captain’s stool, looking over a large steering wheel. “But with the dredging and other improvements, the shipping lane has changed so that the ship’s carrying capacity can reach several thousands tons. It used to be just a few dozen tons, and all the cargo was carried onto the ship by hand.”
Captain Lin has been sailing the Xijiang river in Guangdong for the past 30 years, slowly working his way up from mariner to deck officer and then captain. In that time China has grown to become the world’s largest exporter, with international trade now making up a sizeable part of the overall economy.
Since the economic reforms that started in the late 1970’s China decentralized its foreign trade mechanisms which led to joining the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation in 1991, and the World Trade Organisation in 2000. China’s global trade first broke the $100 billion mark in 1988, the $1 trillion mark in 2004 and exceeded $4 trillion by the end of 2013.
For Captain Lin the vast increase in trade has meant that the ships he sails continues to grow, as does the machinery on the docks used to load and offload the vast containers. “I firmly believe, with the favorable Golden Waterway, the Xijiang River, we will have a promising future and good development.
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