Symposium on Merchant Ship Supply and Security Base Construction of Gulf of Guinea in West Africa Held in Beijing

On April 10, 2018, the symposium on merchant ship supply and security base construction of Gulf of Guinea in West Africa, jointly hosted by China Institute of Navigation (CIN), China Shipowners' Association (CSA) and China Waterborne Transport Research Institute, and organized by CIN, COSCO Shipping Specialized Carriers Co., Ltd and HUAXINZHONGAN Group, was held in Beijing. Over 50 representatives attended the meeting. They are from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Maritime Safety Administration of the People’s Republic of China, Waterborne Transport Administration of the Ministry of Transport, China Maritime Search and Rescue Centre, CIN, CSA, China Waterborne Transport Research Institute, China University of Political Science and Law, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, China Center for International Economic Exchanges (CCIEE), China COSCO Shipping Co., Ltd, China Merchants Group and HUAXINZHONGAN Group.

Song Jiahui, former Safety Director of the Ministry of Transport, Cao Di, vice president of CIN, Zhang Shouguo, Executive Vice President of CSA and other leaders attended the conference, which is presided over by Cai Meijiang, Deputy Director of the Ocean Ship Navigation Committee of CIN.

In his speech, Cao Di expresses that CIN has always attached great importance to the research of hot and tough issues in the industry. Faced with the deteriorating security situation in the Gulf of Guinea, the Ocean Ship Navigation Committee of CIN held a meeting in October last year to discuss the situation and solutions to the maritime security and made great achievements. This meeting is larger in scale, and the participants are from a wider range of fields, so hopefully, the discussion on key issues will be deeper and thus more constructive. It is hoped that the final summary of the symposium will provide a reference for the decision-making of the relevant government departments. This shows how CIN plays its role as the “bridge and bond”. At the same time, he hopes that all the participants make full use of this academic platform to fully exchange ideas and share their relevant achievements so as to solve problems jointly.

At the meeting, Li Wei, Director of China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, Zhang Baochen, Director of the academic committee of China Waterborne Transport Research Institute, Ding Yaming, Manager of the navigation security office of the security supervision division of COSCO Shipping Co., Ltd, Yin Weihong, Chairman of the Board of HUAXINZHONGAN Group, Qin Zhigang, Vice President of China Marine Bunker Supply Company, Wang Xianda, Deputy Director of the Department of African Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chen Wangquan, Vice President of the ship management department of COSCO Shipping Specialized Carriers Co., Ltd and other experts and scholars delivered speeches respectively on issues such as the status quo of the political and economic security situation and piracy of the countries along the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa, bunker supply and its improvement plan, and the idea of establishing a joint supply and security base. During the free discussion, focusing on the theme of the symposium, the representatives had heated discussions and exchanges with regard to the issues of law, insurance, successful cases, emergency response plans and the establishment of the joint platform.

The political and economic situation in the countries along the Gulf of Guinea is complex. Especially since 2018, the deteriorating maritime security situation due to the rampant piracy has posed a serious threat to the life and property safety of the crew and merchant ships, including that of China. The conference has finally reached a number of consensuses, including the following: In the context of the Belt and Road Initiative, we should make the top-level design by strengthening the economic and diplomatic ties with the countries along the Gulf of Guinea at the national level; systematically consider the establishment of a maritime safety and security system and look for an appropriate breakthrough point; shipping companies and security companies should work jointly with the government to explore the establishment of a merchant ship supply and security base for the Gulf of Guinea, etc. After the meeting, the organizers will continue to collect suggestions from parties concerned to form a final report and further study the feasible plan, so as to promote the establishment of the maritime safety and security platform and the introduction of the measures and suggestions which are people-oriented and life-concerning.

By Liu Ying

Group photo of the participants