Ships, shops and pollution
Trip Start Dec 31, 2011
54Trip End Apr 20, 2012
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Caofeidian Tan & Tianjin Xingang
I have previously written about container ships and oil tankers transporting goods to and from China, but nothing, and I repeat nothing prepared me for the sight that met my eyes as I arrived on the bridge this afternoon. It seems a bit odd to use the expression, 'a sea of ships' but that is exactly what I saw - ships of all shapes and sizes, the majority anchored but others plying their trade. As I stood on the bridge looking forwards (that is, not counting those behind us) I counted 82 ships.
In the distance to starboard was Caofeidian Tan - an obvious reason for such a proliferation of vessels, the chimneys, cranes and buildings of a bulk cargo centre and what looked very much like one or more steel works, although from this distance I could not be sure. What I can say with certainty is that the extensive shore side operation was massive and it wasn't containers.
A few miles further and we started to reach the outer limits of the Port of Tianjin. The extensive drainage operations, when completed, will probably double the size of the existing facilities and this is by far the biggest port we have visited in China so far. There is a magnificent passenger terminal building served by a super highway. It is on the outer limits of the port, presumably so that arriving passengers don't see the noisy, dirty side of the port, but it is miles away from everything. The area around it is currently a waste land but like so much I have seen, has enormous potential if there is investment in the area.
The Pilot was very keen to point out a great many European cars are imported to China through this port and he mentioned Audi, VW, BMW and Mini Coopers. I commented to him that with cars as an exception, there were few items necessary for everyday living in the UK that are not made in China. I couldn't gauge his reaction but I think he was more surprised than knowing. He was also very proud of the fact that the Queen Mary 2 had visited the passenger terminal, information he imparted with much pleasure. Perhaps the UK still has a standing abroad?!
If you look on Google Earth (for Tianjin Xingang) two things are of particular note. One is the new cranes opposite the berth we are on, have letters on their top sides that can only be seen from above. (Have a look and see what they spell!) and the other is the massive discolouration of a large area of the port - a rusty brown that looks most unwholesome.
Thursday 16th February 2012
My Chinese taxi driver spoke some English but not much
On the way in yesterday, the Pilot told me the coastal towns of China are affluent but inland there is much poverty. Having returned from this seemingly very prosperous city, I can say that there is also poverty behind the big flashy shops here too. I can't compare because I haven't seen inland, but people on subsistence living are very evident.
But there are many well off people too, and the shops reflect that wealth
I wrote about buses in Dalian but believe the lack of regulation probably applies to HGVs also. I saw many lorries being repaired, piles of used lorry tyres that were being looked over to be used again and men working on vehicles that looked as though they should be scrapped not repaired. These operations were extensive and not in a yard or garage, but on the side of the road in the dirt. It would appear all containers entering and leaving the port are transported by road as I haven't seen any railhead operations - so there is a huge need for lorries to move them. (In Yantian some of the port lorries had been converted to run on LPG but I didn't see any here)
As we came back to the port, a large, all enveloping rusty brown dust cloud obliterated a large area to my right
Although today has been sunny all day (still bitterly cold) there is a haze of pollution. Quoting the Pilot again, he tells me that this is always there and it is known that improvements must be made.
And Jettas are made in China - I think the present tense is correct, but I am not positive given the language issue.
My abiding thoughts about my visit here are concerned with the different aspects of pollution and the vast amount of expansion. It really does provide the evidence that China is enjoying massive growth, but there should be more effort to address the environmental consequences.
(As we sailed, a car transporter from Europe was moored at the swish passenger terminal and unloading its cargo of brand new Audis, making use of the huge unused quayside that I imagine could potentially provide space for coaches when the passenger ships actually arrive)
Sent by email from the ship and posted by the Old Sea Dog's PA