Crossword Genius

A yacht going astray in China (6)

Ross

I believe the answer is:

' china ' is the definition. (historical name for China) ' a yacht going astray in ' is the wordplay. ' going astray ' is an anagram indicator. ' in ' indicates putting letters inside. ' yacht ' anagrammed gives ' cathy '. ' a ' put into ' cathy ' is ' CATHAY '.

(Other definitions for cathay that I've seen before include "China - antique" , "Name for China in medieval times" , "Old name for China with a feline to start" , "China long ago" , "Ancient China" .)

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A new dawn: Inside China's rising superyacht market

China emerged as the great new hope for superyachting after the 2008 crash. One spectacular false dawn later, could it finally be taking off?

If 1421 was the zenith of China’s long yachting history, when legendary eunuch admiral Zheng He purportedly led his “treasure fleet” of hundreds of junks around the world (in the process, according to one historical account, discovering America 70 years before Columbus), 2013 could be considered the nadir. For that was when President Xi Jinping – only months into office – began a crackdown on “tigers and flies”, a euphemism for those government officials and businessmen (the genres blur in China) whose greed and corruption had begun to stir public anger.

Part of his anti-corruption crusade was an eye-watering 44 per cent import tax on luxury goods and a clampdown on lavish hospitalities and personal spending. Ostentatious symbols of wealth – fast cars, lavish banquets, his-and-hers diamond-studded Rolexes, Learjet jaunts, $20,000 gift-wrapped bottles of Rémy Martin and 50-year-old Moutai rice wine, and, of course, superyachts – became highly conspicuous and drew the wrath of the Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

“We must uphold the fighting of tigers and flies at the same time, resolutely investigating law-breaking cases of leading officials and also earnestly resolving the unhealthy tendencies and corruption problems which happen all around people,” Xi said at the time. Dozens have been investigated, arrested and jailed, including top ministers – so many the Qincheng maximum security prison in Beijing for disgraced senior Communist Party officials ran out of cells last year, according to credible reports. Orders for status-symbol trappings dropped off a cliff; Western luxury retailers and manufacturers saw exports nosedive.

The yacht market was especially devastated. It’s far harder to hide a superyacht than a diamond ring or a Porsche, after all. Prior to the crackdown, China’s boating sector had been inching its way towards some kind of momentum after its once illustrious sailing heritage, having been all but erased along with much of the country’s four millennia of history during Chairman Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution, was resurrected for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Then the financial crisis struck the West, and China, with its seemingly armour-plated economy and near-double-digit growth, emerged as the great Eastern hope for leading yacht brands. Into the Chinese market sailed an international fleet of brokers and builders. The 14,500-kilometre coastline, stretching from the Bohai Gulf in the chilly north to the Gulf of Tonkin in the tropical south, was eyed as a prime playground for China’s new billionaire class, which grew to 338 individuals in 2017, according to data company Wealth-X. Estimates put the number of millionaires in the country at more than 1.5 million. China was about to go boating again.

Exhibitions were hastily organised, rendezvous booked and property developers broke ground on scores of prestige marinas, charging top-dollar membership and mooring fees, many starting at ¥1 million (£110,000) a year. Local boatyards followed, laying keels of copied foreign and home-grown designs, some in joint ventures with overseas shipyards, many without.

The image-conscious Chinese super-rich responded in kind and started buying foreign-branded trophy boats at up to three times the market price, and moored them in the expensive marinas. Cost was not an issue. What mattered was so-called “face” or mianzi: the projection, and protection, of one’s reputation and social standing. In the West we call it ego.

A 2012 report by the China Cruise & Yacht Industry Association found that there were 3,000 yachts of all sizes in China, and estimated that this figure would rise to 100,000 by 2020, in a market worth €10 billion. The international boating industry was washed along by this giddy, irrational wave of hyperbole. Across the board, orders for smaller superyachts went from zero – zoom! – skywards.

Local yards benefited. After years of being ignored by the domestic market, in 2010 Chinese yard Heysea received eight orders for its 82 model before it had even finished the mould. A year after the financial crash in the West, meanwhile, China recorded sales of ¥4.15 billion (£450 million), according to local media reports. “After 2008, the yacht market took off because the West’s financial crisis had negligible impact in China,” says Sunseeker Asia’s Gordon Hui from his office in Hong Kong. Jona Kan, from Australian yard SilverYachts , adds that demand suddenly grew for superyacht dayboats on which Chinese businesspeople could entertain clients.

But Icarus had flown too close to the sun. Within a couple of years, the world’s financial woes started to penetrate China’s economic model. Jobs were slashed and inflation was on the rise. Yet for the wealthy Communist Party cadres and their tycoon chums, it was business as usual. The restive masses looked expectantly – and threateningly – to Beijing to bring such conspicuous consumption to heel. President Xi responded with a dragnet that claimed scores of high-profile scalps, sending the message loud and clear: in-your-face luxury would no longer be tolerated.

Brokers’ phones stopped ringing, builders’ order books took a hit and showrooms became wastelands. All of those contacted by Boat International for this article echoed almost verbatim the sentiment expressed by Sunseeker’s Hui: “After more than three years of the anti-graft policy, the Chinese boating market has come to a halt, with a 95 per cent drop-off in sales. It has been all but dead since 2015.”

Sunseeker , bought in 2013 by China’s fourth-richest man, Wang Jianlin, has closed two of its three dealerships in mainland China. At one point, China accounted for 15 per cent of Sunseeker’s global sales. “Now it’s less than five per cent,” says Hui. Several Chinese yacht builders have gone bankrupt as hefty value added tax and duties on imported parts such as engines rendered operations unviable. Marinas have battened down the hatches, slashing their prices by half to avoid the fate of Xiangshan Yacht Club in Fujian province; billed as Asia’s largest marina when it opened, it went bust in 2014.

Yet to solely blame the anti-corruption drive and the global financial crash for China’s slumbering boating market is misguided. Prior to Xi’s clean-up, there had been attempts to build a culture of private boating after the former leader Deng Xiaoping launched economic reforms in 1981. But those attempts failed, says Hong Kong-based yacht broker Mike Simpson, of Simpson Marine, one of the region’s biggest boat dealers. Simpson agreed the import tax on foreign boats has had a near fatal impact, but he says there were already major hurdles to developing the fledgling market. “We have to remember China is relatively new to boating,” says Simpson, who set up his company in Hong Kong in 1983. “It’s been developing in fits and starts. An obvious curb on its development has been the import ban on second-hand boats, which was there before the luxury goods tax.”

He adds: “The last two to three years have been pretty desperate. I don’t think anyone has made money. Everyone’s been spending money just to stay in business in China over the past few years.”

The lack of a boating culture is also commonly cited as one reason that’s holding back the Chinese market. In the West, yachting is all about relaxing fun in the sun, a weekend jaunt from one marina to a secluded cove or island, or for sailing boat owners, the thrill of stealing an opponent’s wind during a regatta. In China, owning a yacht has been all about the optics, or “face”, and viewed by the public as the exclusive preserve of the ultra-rich. But even among this demographic, interest is limited. According to Wealth-X, just two per cent of all Chinese UHNW individuals own or even have an interest in yachting, compared to 6.7 per cent globally.

“The perception among the Chinese is that boating is for the very wealthy,” says Rocky Wang, chief representative of Burgess in China. “Many Chinese have yet to grasp what boating is all about. Boating culture remains in its very early stages. Yachting is very new to them. Those Chinese who think about buying yachts continue to do so with mainly a business objective in mind. Buyers are business owners, investors and entrepreneurs, who use the yachts as dayboats to entertain, rarely overnighting on board.”

Of the 200 yachts in the southern boom city of Shenzhen, where Deng Xiaoping launched China’s opening up and reforms half a century ago, about 70 per cent never leave the yacht club. Instead, they serve as venues to host wealthy clients and government officials; one pontoon legend has it that some boats were bought without engines because their owners never entertained the idea of going to sea.

In China, building a $30 million marina with a plush clubhouse and spa is the easy part. Not so easy is attracting the essential supplemental services: repair yards and chandlers, navigation aids, charts, a coastguard service willing to assist the stranded sailor, sail training schools and so on. A lack of trained Chinese crew is also a major problem. In China there are an estimated 60,000 sailors, mostly of school age, attending small sailing centres and learning in dinghies. Crews experienced enough to handle a 60-metre-plus seagoing vessel are a rarity. “Chinese yacht owners must, therefore, import foreign crews with the expertise to maintain and sail boats, and this comes with visa application headaches,” says Simpson.

Then there is the maddening red tape. China guards its coastal waters like a hawk; try to sail a nautical mile off Qingdao beach or a cable or two up the coast from Sanya and you’ll have patrol boats stuffed to the gunnels with uniformed boarding parties bearing down on you demanding papers; a day’s sail is treated like an invasion or a desperate escape with state secrets.

“It’s true,” concedes William Ward, CEO of the biannual round-the-world Clipper Race, which during its last edition stopped twice in China, in Sanya in the south and Qingdao in the north. “The government protects the inshore waters as it would an inland military installation. It’s overbearing, there’s too much red tape, and you just don’t need that. You need to be able just to hop on your boat, slip your lines and head out for some safe fun and relaxation, just as we can in the UK, or in the Med and everywhere else,” he says.

Then there’s China’s geography. Part of the appeal of cruising is exploring idyllic archipelagos or mooring off a chic seaside town. Only in the south, around the island of Hainan, can you find good cruising with accommodating marinas. Even then, as Ward recently experienced, just heading out for a day’s jaunt demands official clearance to slip your lines, which may or may not be granted.

Little wonder those Chinese who own a superyacht, or are still in the market for one, seek to moor their pride and joy outside China, in places like Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia, while the ultra-wealthy look to the US and the Med.

Not for the first time, there might be signs of a new dawn appearing for China’s boating market. In April, the Pride Mega Yachts shipyard in Yantai, China, rolled out the spec-built 88.5 metre superyacht Illusion Plus , which later appeared at the Monaco Yacht Show. She’s now listed for sale , asking $145 million. If she sells well, it will be a sign of faith in Chinese yacht building.

Chinese conglomerates are once more seeking to own international superyacht brands. China Zhongwang, the world’s second-largest producer of industrial aluminium extrusion products, recently acquired a controlling interest in Australia’s SilverYachts, which builds high-speed, fuel-efficient superyachts from high-grade aluminium. The yard’s commercial director, Jona Kan, says the boatbuilder will soon announce the acquisition of a shipyard in the Pearl River Delta.

Sunbird, a Chinese conglomerate with five shipyards including a large commercial facility, added IAG Yachts to its varied portfolio in 2015, and turned out to solid reviews the 42.7 metre  King Baby , the largest fibreglass motor yacht ever produced in China.

Heysea Yachts, founded in 2007 and one of China’s largest yacht builders, was a new entry in the Boat International Global Order Book’s Top 20 builders in 2018 and holds its place in this year’s report. Chairman Allen Leng says the company is seeing more interest from domestic buyers because it is adapting to local tastes, by placing the galley down below and including more living and entertainment space, with fewer cabins. “There is an increased number of Chinese clients who better understand the culture of boating and the lifestyle it offers; that boat ownership is more than having a floating platform for business and to boost one’s image,” says Leng. “More Chinese customers are accepting that China-made yachts offer quality and the same after-sales service as foreign brands. We’re also noticing a demand for smaller yachts, which shows the link between sailing and sport and leisure, and that boating is not just a rich person’s pursuit.”

Horizon Yachts says its product range, including new projects such as the FD series, are proving popular with Chinese clients, who are becoming more sophisticated in their tastes. “For example, a buyer in Shanghai or in Sanya will moor their yacht in a yacht club and let the club manage it. In the past five years, we have delivered a 120ft [36.5 metre] superyacht and 145ft [44.2 metre] superyacht, both to clients in Shanghai,” says Horizon Yachts’ chief marketing officer, Lily Li.

Simpson Marine’s Mike Simpson estimates that around 50 per cent of yachts being bought in China are now locally built. “The standard is improving,” he says. “Sometimes you have to do a double-take when you see yachts coming: you think it’s a well-known foreign brand. Then you look again and it’s actually a locally made boat.”

Sunseeker’s Hui also expresses modest optimism. “I think the market overall is getting better, albeit slowly,” he concedes. “I can say 70 per cent of our 2015 to 2018 customers are mainland Chinese with overseas-listed companies. But their boats are all outside China.”

Grassroots sailing and crew training recently received a much-needed boost. In April, the UK’s then deputy ambassador to China, Martyn Roper, and the president of the Chinese Yachting Association, Qu Chun, signed deals to open three training centres to bring Chinese seamanship up to British standards. The centres will offer the UK’s Royal Yachting Association courses. In the UK, seven per cent of the population goes boating. If the same percentage could be replicated in China, that would mean 80 million people taking confidently to the water.

Simpson says a new initiative called the Greater Bay Area development scheme is seeking to unify nine mainland coastal cities to allow yachts licensed in Hong Kong and Macau to cruise in the good southern cruising areas around Hainan without paying a hefty tax. And there is quiet and determined diplomacy afoot calling for Beijing to relax and standardise coastal regulations. Ward, the Clipper Race CEO, says he has been speaking to officials at city and provincial levels who understand the benefits of rationalising China’s sailing industry and its associated tourist trade. “I have spoken with many officials and they get this point. They understand the [stifling red tape] situation, and they’re passing these concerns up to Beijing, that leisure sailing is a different culture and is good for local and regional business,” he says.

There are signs of a cultural shift, too. At the 2018  Shanghai Boat Show , many of the exhibitors were proposing something different – more accessible yachting, with small fishing boats and cruisers standing cheek by jowl with the bigger craft, says Delphine Lignières, co-founder of the Hainan Rendez-Vous. “Contrary to myth, many Chinese enjoy watersports, including sailing and fishing. What I have seen now is more and more people boating on inland freshwater lakes in smaller-sized boats.

“That’s where I see the market developing this time, with smaller recreational boats being bought for use on lakes, rivers and estuaries. This will help establish a boating culture, and over time, the boats will again get bigger and bigger. And not in such a conspicuous way.”

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a yacht going astray in china

The Booming Asia Pacific Superyacht Market

The Asia Pacific superyacht market broke record yacht sales in the last year, this unprecedented performance has stemmed from an overall increase in yacht ownership and yacht chartering across the region. In this article, we analyse the current market and highlight the key trends that are painting a new era for the Asia Pacific superyacht sector.

The Asia Pacific Market

The Asia Pacific region offers one of the best coastlines in the world, stretching over 135,000 kilometres. Regarded as a yachting paradise, Asia houses thousands of islands in the Pacific Ocean, which are known tourist spots that boast modern cities with authentic culture, luxury beach resorts with white sandy beaches and luscious tropical habitats to explore. The Pacific Ocean is ideal for sailing and its rich marine life offers exceptional diving and snorkeling along the coral reefs.

As the recognised yachting hub of Asia, Hong Kong has been the most active country in the superyacht sector many years, with its maritime infrastructure and competitive fiscal regime attracting many leading global yacht brokers to set up regional offices. However, more recently there has been a surge of growth in the yachting sector across the Asia Pacific, which has led to a development in shipyards, new builds, manufacturing partnerships and sales offices across the region.

Yacht brokers have begun targeting less developed countries in South East Asia, including Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. It seems this strategy is proving successful, as yacht brokers in Asia have reported record sales in the last year. An example is one of Asia’s largest yacht brokers, Boat Lagoon Yachting, which holds offices in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Maldives.

a yacht going astray in china

Another shift in the Asia Pacific superyacht market landscape that is showing promise is the developing yachting sector in China. Clouded with stringent regulation for many years, China deterred any attraction of foreign investment or supported development in its maritime infrastructure. Whilst its yachting sector is in its early life cycle, the country recently made many positive advancements, which has contributed to the yachting ‘boom’ in the Asia-Pacific.

In contrast to China, Hong Kong holds a rich maritime history and is excluded from heavy tax on luxury goods, which has been the main factor stunting China’s growth in the sector. Hong Kong proposes an attractive fiscal regime for yacht importation and VAT registration, which has strengthened its position in the sector.

In December 2016, the Hong Kong Marine Department relaxed the rules for visiting yachts and their crew, which boosted yachting in the country. Many leading global yacht brokers expanded to Hong Kong years ago to take advantage of the Asia Pacific market, including Simpson Marine in 1984, which has since expanded its presence across Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. Prestigious yacht brokers such as Azimut yachts, Camper and Nicholsons, Benetti and Burgess Yachts set up an office in Hong Kong, which have been very active in the market. It has been noted that there have been record sales across the board for yacht brokers in Hong Kong, which includes Azimut and Simpson Marine.

After the U.S, China has the second highest concentration of billionaires globally, as the markets target audience; this poses huge potential and a promising outlook for the regions superyacht sector. Industry statistics state the Asia Pacific yacht market is witnessing strong growth and by 2026, Global Industry Analysts have predicted China’s yacht market to be worth $1.2 billion.

A post-pandemic trend demonstrated an increase in yachting in the region, due to more locals choosing the isolated, luxury travel option, which led them to discover more of the beautiful landscape on their doorstep. As a result, there has been a spike in Chinese yacht ownership and even over the last decade; the interest in the local yachting scene has been gradually rising with Chinese sailing clubs popping up across the region, local regatta races and international sporting events attracting global attention. Shaping this trend is the consistent improvement of living standards, which has resulted in consumers purchasing more luxury goods, such as yachts.

a yacht going astray in china

The rise in yacht ownership has slowly increased China’s global yacht market share; to put this in perspective, according to the China Transport Association’s Cruise Yacht Branch, the total number of yachts in China will increase from 38,100 to 163,510 between 2020 and 2025. This clearly demonstrates the changing landscape in recent years, and a key factor driving this is China supporting new development in the sector, with the aim to boost the country’s consumption and attract tourism.  

Examples include the construction of local shipyards producing new builds. There have also been amendments to the regulation in place including loosening the country’s yacht registration standards, the yacht ownership criteria, the entry/exit requirements and easing the requirements for traveling between provinces. They have also introduced non-resident yacht registration and reduced yacht importation tax by a further 5% to encourage new business to the sector.

In doing this, it has widened access to the superyacht market in China and encouraged yachting for both pleasure and commercial use. Yacht chartering has become more popular, which boosts tourism and allows consumers to explore the great destinations on offer. Industry research states that domestic chartering across countries in Asia is increasingly popular; Simpson Marine noted there has been unprecedented growth in this area, especially in Hong Kong and Thailand.

a yacht going astray in china

Many leading global yacht brands have invested into Asia by forming manufacturing partnerships, for example leading Asian superyacht broker, Simpson Marine and the prestigious Italian shipyard, Sanlorenzo. World-renowned catamaran manufactures, Lagoon and Aquila, have been very successful in the Asian market, with yacht sales spanning across China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar.

Another is Ferretti Group, which set up 14 regional distributors and sold $70 million worth of yacht sales in Asia Pacific in 2020. They also demonstrated its commitment to developing the regions maritime infrastructure by signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Sanya Central Business District.

As the recognised yachting hub of China, Sanya is part of the Hainan Province, which is set to become a trade free zone by 2025. The construction of the Hainan Free Trade Port will exclude import tariffs on yachts imported into the island for transportation and tourism, value added tax and consumption tax for foreign exporters. The number of registered yachts in Sanya has increased from 10 to 500 in the last decade, and in last year, apart from the surge in yacht registrations, the Hainan province accommodated 1.13 million tourists, which is only predicted to increase due to the potential the zone promises for the developing yachting sector.

It is obvious that the Asia Pacific superyacht sector is developing rapidly, whilst advancements in regulation in China provide new potential for the region, such as the Hainan FTZ, there are still barriers in the maritime infrastructure in place, including the less developed neighbouring countries. However, as the market trends suggest, yachting has become increasing popular in recent years , the shift in behaviour has created a new market for the Asian superyacht sector and this will only result in the sector maturing to capitalise on this growth. With more development in shipyards, suppliers and well-equipped marinas, plus the rising number of yacht sales across the region, the outlook only looks positive for the future Asia Pacific yacht sector, and the booming economic growth it will provide for the many countries it will bring with it.

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China’s Yacht Market: Opportunities and Challenges for Foreign Players (updated)

China appears well-positioned to become a prominent yacht market, given its 14,484km-long coastline and a class of millionaires expected to cross the 20 million mark by the mid-2020s. Despite this, however, sales have been disappointing i n the last 3-5 years due to high import tax and the inability of manufacturers to respond to Chinese client demands. In this article, we provide a general overview of China’s yacht market and discuss the differences in business outlook according to key stakeholders, ranging from optimism over market growth potential or concerns about limited domestic prospects . We also discuss the recent entry of Chinese capital in the industry and how Chinese companies are manufacturing for non-China markets. Finally, we look at opportunities for foreign investors in China’s boat market, including prospects for small and mid-cap companies, and showcase the success cases of Italian companies.

UPDATE: O n August 18, 2 0 22, the Ministry Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), together with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the Ministry of Finance (MOF), the Ministry of Transport (MOT) , and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism (MCT), jointly released on the Guidelines on Accelerating the Development of Cruise and Yacht Equipment and the Industry (Guidelines) , clarifying China’s roadmap for the development of the yacht industry through 2025. More details are provided below .  

While North America and Europe remain in the lead as the world’s largest yacht consumers, the Asia-Pacific region has rapidly become one of the fastest-growing yacht markets.   The yacht market in Asia has been skyrocketing post-pandemic, with increased purchases and a growing interest in sailing – sparking what industry experts define as a ‘boom’. On the one hand, countries like Taiwan and China have increased their market share with new builds by locally-based shipyards. However, boat sales to the region are also on the rise.

As of 2021, Asian ownership of superyachts over 40 meters in service accounted for 5.8 percent of the global superyacht fleet. The number of Asian-owned yachts has progressively increased, from 91 at the beginning of 2016 to 109 at the start of 2021.    Countries like Singapore have become active once again in the yacht sales ad brokerage market s after a slow period  during the pandemic that triggered international and regional border closures.   

In China, heightened living standards have led to the increasing demand for luxurious consumer goods, including in the boating industry. According to the China Transport Association’s Cruise Yacht Branch, the total number of yachts in China will increase from 38,100 to 163,510 between 2020 and 2025.   

China’s yacht market: an overview    

Few geographical regions offer the superyacht sector as much room for expansion as the Chinese market does. China has a vast and increasing pool of potential superyacht purchasers, although the country is still in the early stages of yachting growth in terms of domestic infrastructure and ownership. It could still be the right time for such a high-potential market to flourish due to factors like the increase in the country’s per capita purchasing power and that of its ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) population.    

A 2021 wealth report revealed the 10 countries with the highest increase in their UHNW population in 2020 – the so-called ‘top 10 riders’ – with China leading the group at 16 percent growth. Furthermore, in 2021, China surpassed the United States to become the world’s first country with over 1,000 billionaires. The research highlighted that, despite the trade war and the pandemic, China was able to add 259 billionaires to its list, surpassing other nations like the US, India, and Germany.  

With a large number of prospective consumers, China’s relatively new market is even more attractive for foreign businesses. New yacht manufacturers, brand sales agents, yacht customers, private clubs, and exhibits have sprung up throughout the country in recent decades. Meanwhile, China’s boat manufacturing keeps rising steadily, from 29,100 units produced in 2011 to 48,300 units in 2015. China’s yacht industry is estimated to reach US$15.1 billion in 2027, accounting for 17.8 percent of the worldwide market and growing at a CAGR of 3.9 percent between 2020 and 2027.  

Less stringent regulations demonstrating the government’s commitment to the sector  

Many positive government efforts linked to the yachting industry and maritime activities, in general, have lately been enacted, and China is seeing a trend of loosening regulations. At the outset of this decade, two regulatory bodies – the Ministry of Transport and the Maritime Safety Administration (MSA) – announced new, more liberalized criteria and standards for yacht registration and overseas-yacht entry/exit procedures.   

More limitations on boat ownership have been abolished in recent years, and clear maritime traffic legislation has been adopted. The increase of the navigability range, the streamlining of the examination/approval processes, and the inclusion of non-resident yacht registrations are the three most recent major amendments to the rules. These key developments show the government’s commitment to the sector’s growth.  

Also, as wealthy Chinese yacht owners spend about 10 percent of the yacht’s value on maintenance, a large portion of this wealth is reinvested in the local economy. This not only is a great boost for regional GDP but is also in line with the government’s will of shifting its economy away from production to consumption. It has likely prompted Chinese officials to ease the cumbersome registration process for importing a yacht into the country, as well as the requirements for traveling between provinces. Yachts registered in Hong Kong and Macao, for example, were allowed to sail in China’s Pearl River Delta beginning 2018. The first cross-border sailing program has also increased boat orders in the Chinese Mainland by 20 percent to 30 percent.     

Accordingly, The State Council Office evaluated the Guidance on Tourism Industry Acceleration and drafted a National Tourism and Entertainment Outline (2013-2020) in which measures were taken to improve the infrastructure for yacht marinas and cruise terminals, as well as encourage the growth of tourism products.   

Yacht market more prosperous in certain regions than others: The case of Hainan Free Trade Zone   

The yacht business in Hainan Province flourished in 2021 – the Sanya Yachting Association revealed that Sanya, China’s tropical island and premier destination for luxury tourism, hosted almost 160,000 yacht trips, up 47 percent compared to 2020. Moreover, by the end of 2021, the number of new yachts registered reached 323, surging 202 percent year on year.  

This increase is partly due to the Overall Plan for the Construction of Hainan Free Trade Port (“the Masterplan”) that was released in June 2020, which stipulates that by 2025, there will be no tariffs on the island’s import of ships for transportation, tourism, and other purposes. Import tariffs, the value-added tax, and the consumption tax will all be waived for foreign exporters – which will effectively cut prices for foreign-made products.   

Success stories: Italian yacht businesses in China  

With 407 projects and super-yachts totalling 14,994 meters in development in 2021, Italy continues to top the annual report issued by the nautical newspaper ShowBoat International. Azimut-Benetti, Sanlorenzo, and Ferretti Group occupy the first, second, and third place, respectively. 

Despite having eight well-known brands, six shipyards, and over 170 years of history, Ferretti Group is today the only rival in its business to provide a comprehensive range of yachts ranging in size from 8 to 95 meters, and it is very active in China’s yacht market. After defaulting in 2009, the company was bought in 2012 by SHIG–Weichai Group, a large Chinese machinery manufacturer that currently controls 75 percent of the Italian shipbuilder.   

Following the acquisition, the company focused on growing into new markets. It made a great impression in the Asia-Pacific region in the first quarter of 2020, selling about US$73 million and negotiating two new dealership agreements for the distribution of its yachts in Malaysia, Cambodia, and Laos.   The Italian shipbuilder now has offices in Hong Kong and Shanghai, as well as a fully equipped after-sales facility, to meet the needs of its customers in the region. It also inked a Memorandum of Understanding with the Sanya Central Business District (SCBD) to collaborate with the government on the development of the local industry and China’s yacht market in general.

Other than larger and well-established companies, opportunities are there for everybody. According to Giovanni Lovisetti , Senior Associate on the International Business Advisory at Dezan Shira & Associates’ Milan Liaison office , “while huge companies can approach Asian markets by themselves – such as Fincantieri, who has already established a presence in Hainan – several smaller companies are just waiting for the right stimulus to take the first step towards Asia.” This might be the right time for them to step in.   

Roadblocks to the development of China’s yacht market   

High import taxes on foreign boats are one of the primary hurdles to the development of China’s yacht sector. The country has a 43.65 percent tax on boats – although recently reduced to 38.1 percent for motor yachts and 35.6 percent for sailing yachts above 8 meters. Furthermore, since the beginning of the government’s Anti-Corruption Campaign in 2012, potential customers have been reluctant to flaunt their wealth, preferring to keep a low profile and avoid public scrutiny.  

Another considerable barrier to Chinese high-income individuals buying private boats in the Mainland, is the lack of well-equipped marinas, ship repair yards, spare parts suppliers, and all other necessary (and expensive) infrastructure for yacht upkeep and mooring.  

Lastly, in 2015, China strengthened its regulations for yachts travelling in its national waters, restricting the number of passengers onboard to a maximum of 12 people – which made it impossible to arrange large parties and gatherings on board since the crew alone counts six members. Furthermore, China’s southern shoreline land is a particularly difficult marine zone due to ongoing territorial conflicts with neighboring states.  

As a result, several of the world’s most prestigious shipbuilders, like Sunseeker and Ferretti Group, have shuttered their showrooms in Mainland China or eliminated the country from their core target markets, despite their Chinese ownership. Regardless, those companies continue to sell boats to Chinese customers for delivery outside of the Mainland.  

Understanding the Chinese market and its cultural context  

Four purposes for boats are sailing, sports, leisure, and entertainment. For wealthy Chinese buyers, the latter would be the most common option. Given that the high-income Chinese population has little interest in sunbathing, the primary aim of these luxury boats in the contemporary setting would be to serve as a business frontier for hosting meetings, parties, and other business-related events. Yachting, however, has a bad cultural connotation as compared to other activities in a wealthy society.

According to market research, affluent Chinese people like golf, swimming, spas, and yoga as leisure activities, since they are well-known in Chinese culture for providing health benefits , and are thus appealing. Yachting, on the other hand, does not provide comparable physical benefits in the traditional Chinese context. Such cultural premises are fundamental when considering the gap between target customers and the industry culture.  

All things considered, it is not impossible for Chinese customers to shift their perspective since the country’s shopping habits and tastes are fast changing because of the ongoing rise of HNWIs. This means that tastes are subject to change and may be molded if an industry pursues them aggressively. In reality, a lack of brand familiarity and awareness provides first-mover brand opportunities.  

The future of China’s yacht industry    

All in all, between financial crackdowns and setting up zones such as Hainan FTZ, what is the right space for the yacht market to develop?   China’s financial crackdowns continued throughout 2021, with Beijing slamming for-profit education, tanking Ant Financial and Didi IPOs, or bringing the entertainment and gaming business under control, and harnessing local digital titans. As a result, in the era of “Common Prosperity,” it’s worth considering whether China’s yacht market can take off and grow.  

Yet, the central government’s desire to boost consumption and encourage tourism (including yacht tourism) creates unprecedented potential for the boat sector in the coming years, at least for small-to-mid-sized boats. The formation of the Hainan Free Trade Zone and the development of a new port have the potential to turn the island into a hub for China’s yacht culture. The number of registered boats in Sanya has increased from 10 to 500 in the previous decade alone, and yacht rental services have grown in popularity in China, enhancing yacht culture among both the Chinese middle and high-income classes.  

Further, according to the Guidelines on Accelerating the Development of Cruise and Yacht Equipment and the Industry (Guidelines) jointly released by the MIIT and other ministries on August 18, 2 0 22 , there are four development goals to achieve in the yacht industry by 2025: improving the design and construction capacity, refining the foundation of the equipment industry, expanding the demands in the consumer market, and strengthening cooperation and talent cultivation. Sanya is expected to be transformed into a home port for international cruises, outlining several international first-class cruise tourism destinations. Priority is attached to the development of water tourism resources in areas such as the Circum-Bohai Sea Economic Zone, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, the coastal city cluster that links Guangdong, Fujian and Zhejiang, the Hainan Free Trade Port, the Yangtze River Economic Belt, the Pearl River-West River Economic Belt, and the Grand Canal Cultural Belt. Meanwhile, Hainan is encouraged to pilot a yacht leasing business. The Guidelines also called for building teams of professional talents along the whole industry chain, covering the design, construction, operation, and management of cruises, yachts , and tourist passenger ships, as well as related tourism services and legal consulting.  

Catering to specific needs

With China’s yachting culture still in its infancy, yacht makers should concentrate on meeting the expectations of Chinese clientele, from emphasizing the design of entertaining rooms to making it easier to hire superyachts on a short-term basis. The scarcity of skilled Chinese Mandarin-speaking specialists and Chinese designers, on the other hand, is stifling the growth of China’s boat sector. Foreign shipbuilding businesses should tailor their offerings to the demands and preferences of Chinese boat buyers, keeping in mind lifestyle and cultural preferences.

For example, Chinese yacht owners seldom spend the night on board and prefer boats with leisure and recreational amenities like KTV (karaoke) rooms. Catering to such needs, which are specific to the Chinese clientele, is an essential part of challenging cultural differences and securing a spot in such a promising market.  

This article was first published on June 21, 2022 and last updated on September 29, 2022.

China Briefing is written and produced by Dezan Shira & Associates . The practice assists foreign investors into China and has done so since 1992 through offices in Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. Please contact the firm for assistance in China at [email protected] . Dezan Shira & Associates has offices in Vietnam , Indonesia , Singapore , United States , Germany , Italy , India , and Russia , in addition to our trade research facilities along the Belt & Road Initiative . We also have partner firms assisting foreign investors in The Philippines , Malaysia , Thailand , Bangladesh .

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SuperyachtNews

By SuperyachtNews 11 May 2021

China and Hong Kong: superyacht market dynamics

As china’s billionaire population hits record numbers, the industry is still trying to grow this budding market….

Image for article China and Hong Kong: superyacht market dynamics

There are few geographical markets that present the superyacht industry with the same opportunity for growth as the Chinese market. Still at a relatively early stage of yachting development, in terms of domestic infrastructure and ownership, China certainly has a large, and growing, pool of potential superyacht buyers. Knight Frank’s 2021 edition of The Wealth Report recently set out its list of top-10 risers – the 10 countries that saw the biggest increase in their UHNWI population in 2020 – revealing that China saw the largest increase, at 16 per cent.

Furthermore, according to Hurun Report’s Hurun Global Rich List 2021 , China has outpaced the United States to become the first country in the world with more than 1,000 billionaires. The publication reveals that, at the beginning of 2021, China had 1,058 billionaires with their wealth denominated in US dollars. “Despite the trade war with the US, China adds 259 billionaires and becomes the first country with more than 1,000 known billionaires, surpassing other countries including the US, India and Germany,” the report says.

a yacht going astray in china

In light of the region’s growing billionaire population, the recently-published The Pacific Superyacht Report   explores the current dynamics at play in the Chinese superyacht market from a buyer perspective, as well as the potential that China and Hong Kong present to the superyacht industry.

“There is definitely an upward trend in the superyacht market in China, as the wealth of the mainland Chinese increases,” says Joe Yuen, of Lodestone Yachts. “The Chinese tend to purchase new superyachts from production yacht dealers, but now you see more and more Chinese buying semi-custom or full-custom superyachts through professional yacht brokers. The production yacht dealers have done well with their marketing in the region, and you are also beginning to see larger semi-custom superyachts cruising in the harbours.” 

When talking about the Chinese superyacht market, it is important to distinguish between the Hong Kong market and mainland China market. As Rock Wang, Feadship’s Asia representative, explains, “Hong Kong is already a very mature yachting market, so there isn’t much potential for growth. While mainland China is already very active, it will be growing rapidly in the next 10 years.” 

The reasons for these two markets being at two very different stages of yachting development are well documented. While Hong Kong may have a longer history of a yachting culture than mainland China, the most obvious barrier to the growth of the domestic Chinese market is its weighty import duties on foreign yachts, compared to tax-free Hong Kong.

“The matter of taxation has been a major limiting factor,” says Mike Simpson, managing director of Simpson Marine. “There is a very high import tax on yachts, it has been 43.65 per cent, but that has recently been reduced to 38.1 per cent on motoryachts and 35.6 per cent on sailing yachts over 8m [at the time of writing]. The tax has been a big deterrent for a lot of people – when you are spending a large amount of money to buy a yacht, no one is very happy about spending nearly 50 per cent more for the privilege of bringing it into, and flagging it in, China.”

For Simpson, however, the biggest barrier to the growth of the domestic market is the perception that superyachts in China are going to attract a lot of attention. “Currently there are only about 30 yachts over 30m in southern China altogether (excluding Hong Kong), so any new yacht is going to stand out, and this is not always very welcome. Normally, the wealthy try and keep a low profile,” he continues. “There is plenty of wealth in China, but there is a fear of attracting attention by any obvious displays of wealth.”

“There is plenty of wealth in China, but there is a fear of attracting attention by any obvious displays of wealth...”

In both the Hong Kong and mainland China markets, buyer habits differ depending on the size sector they are buying into, and whether they are buying for domestic or overseas use. According to Wang, because the majority of marinas in Hong Kong offer berthing up to 35m, both the 30-35m new-build and brokerage markets in Hong Kong are very active, with most clients keeping their boats in Hong Kong and using them as day or weekend boats for local cruising. For the larger size sectors, however, clients tend to enjoy their boats overseas due to the berthing limitations of Hong Kong’s marinas.

Wang observes further intricacies in the 35m-plus sector depending on size range, with Hong Kong clients generally preferring to buy new over second-hand. “Buying a yacht is more expensive in the 35-60m size range, so clients spending this much money tend to want something new,” he explains. “About 60-70 per cent of these clients will choose a new build. Most clients also don’t want to wait too long for their yacht, but thankfully many shipyards offer production or semi-custom models in this size range, which shortens build time.” 

According to Wang, this preference for ‘something new’ augments even further in the 60m-plus market. “The vast majority of clients want a new-build when buying a yacht over 60m,” he adds. “Every yacht of this size has a very specific personality and, because of this, many of the clients I have worked with feel that a second-hand yacht of this size does not and would not belong to them.”

In terms of the market in mainland China, there are other dynamics at play. With government restrictions on the import of second-hand yachts older than one year, as well as a lack of brokerage agencies and surveyors to advise clients on second-hand purchases, there is virtually no second-hand brokerage activity within China, even in the 30-35m sector, where berthing is easier.

However, the mainland Chinese ownership in the 35m-plus market is similar to that of Hong Kong. “Except that the mainland Chinese prefer to buy new builds even more than Hong Kong clients,” he says. “It is the Chinese mentality; if they are spending 20-30 million euros, they want something new.”

In terms of market potential for the superyacht industry, the Chinese market is huge in the same way that the country’s population is huge and, in light of the country’s rapidly growing population of UHNWIs, Wang is very optimistic about the future potential of the market in mainland China. He puts it simply: “It’s human nature. When you have a lot of money, you want to enjoy life and yachting is one of the best ways to enjoy life.”

“From the crew to the brokers and designers, every sector of this industry is lacking Chinese professionals...”

Despite this optimism, Wang believes that there are certain changes that could be made in order to help stimulate growth. One barrier is the scarcity of Chinese representation in the industry. “From the crew to the brokers and designers, every sector of this industry is lacking Chinese professionals,” he says. “As an international community, we should look to find Chinese talent. If there were just 15 to 20 Chinese brokers, the market would change. Shipyards also need to have marketing material in Chinese because the majority of Chinese clients feel more comfortable reading Chinese than English. It is something very basic that the industry can do today that will have a significant impact in the future.”

Simpson agrees that a lack of qualified local crew is certainly a limiting factor to the growth of the Chinese market. “Owners accept that they will have to hire qualified foreign crew for now, but many Chinese owners don’t speak English and they would rather have at least some crewmembers who can communicate with them in their own language,” he says, adding that optimism lies in the MCA-approved Galileo Maritime Academy, Thailand. The Academy offers training courses to the Asia region, which will help to get more local crew trained up and qualified to work on superyachts in the future.

More infrastructure to attract visiting yachts would also help to give the superyacht industry more visibility in China, and possibly attract the attention of qualified buyers. “When there are more marinas and professional crew, this will help increase the popularity of superyachts,” concludes Yuen. “The Chinese government is also promoting various types of tourism, including yacht tourism, in the Free Trade Zone of Hainan Island and The Greater Bay Area. I hope this will bring more charter yachts to the Far East.”

This article appears in full in the recently-published The Pacific Superyacht Report . For complimentary digital access to the magazine, please click here.

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Superyacht Times: How Hong Kong could ignite a yachting boom in China

a yacht going astray in china

The relationship between China and superyachts is curious – but it might not be for long. Per capita the country has the second-highest concentration of billionaires, trailing closely behind the United States and far outpacing anywhere else in the world. If we include Hong Kong and Macau into the mix, then there are a recorded 698 members of the highest wealth percentile that call the nation their home. Wealth’s not just concentrated at this top strata either, as ten percent of the world’s millionaires also reside in China – the country has the second-largest economy in the world.

It’s also a yachting paradise with thousands of islands to explore, miles of sandy beaches, plenty of thriving cities and diverse fauna and flora. There has been a growing enthusiasm for yachting, especially since the turn of the century, and some heady predictions were made with some expecting the number of local yacht owners to exceed six figures.  

An ambitious estimate when we consider that just ten years ago there were only 3,000 Chinese-owned yachts of all sizes, so expecting an increase of 97,000 was a tad optimistic. This is not to downplay the steep curve that has taken place, far from it. Since the turn of the century, Yachting was growing in popularity in China and new clubs were springing up all over the coastline– Qingdao International Yacht Club and Silver Channel Sailing Club, to name just two – while the more well-established clubs saw their memberships swelling.

There were also a number of sporting events, regattas and conventions opening their doors for the first time, the China Cup International Regatta, held in Shenzhen being a point in case as it was the first-ever international big sailing event to be held in China, which kicked-off in 2007 and has been held annually ever since.

“When I first arrived here, around 30 years ago, the sailing scene was mostly expat, say 70 percent expat to 30 percent Chinese sailing,”  Suzy Rayment, Executive Director of the Asia-Pacific Superyacht Association ( APSA ), told SYT . “Now the ratios have flipped and it's 70 percent Chinese with 30 percent expat sailing, and we see a lot of locals from Shenzhen come to Hong Kong to sail for the weekend. That was until 2019 when the borders were closed in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.” 

While yachting has continued to grow in popularity in Hong Kong and southern China, interest in superyachts hasn’t been as strong. Momentum for larger pleasure vessels got hindered – politically that is. Bloomberg wrote a damning report back in 2019, painting quite the macabre portrait of the superyacht sector in China. Not without reason either as Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party, was waging a war against opulence, building stigma against showcasing wealth, and slapped on some heavy-weight taxes on luxury commodities to hit back financially too. Owning a superyacht is arguably the most ostentatious plaything and they’re not easy to conceal. At the time, Gordon Hui, former head of Sunseeker Asia, reported to Bloomberg that “since the early 2000s he’s shuttered three dealerships in China and hasn’t sold a yacht for use in China since 2015.”

A gulf emerged between the growing interest of yachting and the uprate in ownership in China post-2012; however, ironically, at the time of Bloomberg’s publication things began changing in China and with the Chinese yacht market as the pandemic reignited the desire for superyachts. With lockdown measures and border closures, people all over the world were looking at ways to enjoy their time with their families safely and away from the crowds – China was no different.

A major thorn in yachting’s side though is that “the country hasn’t developed a proper maritime infrastructure, making it can be a logistical nightmare to cruise,” Rayment said. But the story is different for Hong Kong. As of the 8th December 2016, the Hong Kong Marine Department finally relaxed the rules for visiting yachts and their crew, as a result of lobbying from the Asia-Pacific Superyacht Association ( APSA ), which was spearheaded by Colin Dawson,  (ex-chairman of APS). The yachting ecosystem is certainly blooming and Hong Kong is acting as a stronghold, a steady footing to invigorate interest in maritime leisure. Being a special administrative region, Hong Kong is excluded from the heavy levies imposed on luxury goods and it benefits from having deeper relationships with the European and US counterparts of the yachting industry.

Adding more might to the region is the fact that it’s a gorgeous area to cruise with more than 250 islands to explore. “During the pandemic with restricted mobility, yacht owners were exploring their native waters and reminded how nice Hong Kong actually is for yachting,” Rayment said

Mike Simpson, Founder & CEO of Simpson Marine, also saw this, “Asian and Asia-based expatriates, all wanting to enjoy local cruising grounds as regular travelling patterns are restricted due to the Pandemic. Yachting has come to be seen as a safe haven and a way to escape from the harsh realities of life ashore in these challenging times.” Eric Noyel, Founder of Asia Marine & Managing Director of Fraser Asia, saw this trend reflected in sales. “Hong Kong has been crazy for the last two years. 500 new boats arrived – mostly Italian and American – and were sold in the city. There have been record sales across the board for yacht brokers in Hong Kong. I’d say that we’ve had the equivalent of 20 years’ worth of sales in the last two years.”

The Hong Kong Boating Industry Association estimates that there are close to 10,000 registered leisure marine vessels (the majority of which will be vessels under 24 metres) and, according to a yacht market study published by Global Industry Analysts, by 2026 China is expected to have a yacht market that sings to the tune of $1.2 billion. Some major players have pledged to bolster their presence in Asia as they look to capitalise on this growth. Massimo Perotti, CEO of Sanlorenzo, for one, said in a recent press conference that he expects Asia to be a much larger market in the near future. 

China has a way to go through to support this. But it seems as though the cultural stigma is dissipating. Hong Kong has definitely played a role in this as the local taste for yachting has continued to grow over the years, and has just gone through a period of acceleration. There is a big hindrance for the region, mind: an underdeveloped yachting infrastructure.

“We need more marinas, repair and refit yards, and better local crew training but we also need regional governments to understand the potential of this amazing industry and to provide their support in facilitating cross-border cruising with friendly tax, immigration, and operating regulations for superyachts,” Simpson wrote in the APSA Guide 2021.

The Chinese yacht market has potential and could be a major industry in the coming years and is definitely a region to watch, but it does need work. While the Global Industry Analysts’ prediction of $1.2 billion certainly causes for celebration – it’s still just half of the current US yacht market, albeit a more mature market, but with a similar demographic of billionaires. If the Global Industry Analysts are correct with their predictions, then the Chinese market will be around €10 million less than Germany in 2026. This is not to dismiss the growing market as there is scope for acceleration.  “Not all Chinese millionaires and billionaires are going to buy a yacht, but they're getting more and more exposure. Even if they’re not buying a yacht, their friends might be.”

Written by Alexander Griffiths 12 April 2022 | 22:00 (AEST)

Reprinted courtesy of SuperyachtTimes.com

https://www.superyachttimes.com/yacht-news/hong-kong-yachting-boom

An independent source on Chinese and Western brands in and outside China

Yachting: China encourages the small to medium boat market

According to the CCYIA, the number of fishing boats and sailboats between 8 and 15 metres has become a major force in the market. © Worldoe

Since 2012 and the anti-graft policy, luxury yachts have been regarded with some suspicion by the Chinese government. But the boat culture is promoted as a healthy lifestyle among the Chinese middle class, even if there is still a long way to go before being actually widespread.

The 54th annual meeting of the International Council of Marine Industry Associations (ICOMIA) will take place next year in Zhuhai, Guangdong province. “It is the first time a yacht convention is held in China. This means that China’s yacht market has become an important part of the international market”, says the China Cruise and Yacht Industry Association (CCYIA).

According to ICOMIA statistics, China was the third producer country in 2017 with 2,182 sailboats and yachts produced, after England and France. In terms of value, China reached the second place after France.

But it rather looks like a recovery as the Chinese yacht industry has come a long way. In 2012 and 2013, Chinese groups SHIG-Weichai and Dalian Wanda Group respectively acquired controlling interests in Ferretti and Sunseeker – two of the most famous global yacht brands. China, it seemed, was on track to join the elite world of yachting, especially after the 2008 financial crisis that dramatically shrank the Western markets.

However, the good prospects came crashing down after 2013. President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign announced in late 2012 meant extravagant symbols of wealth like luxury yachts were finger-pointed by the authorities.

Gordon Hui of Sunseeker Asia told Chinese newspaper South China Morning Post that Sunseeker has struggled in China despite its Chinese ownership. And Ferretti Group CEO Alberto Galassi also said in an interview with Forbes that China was no longer a market for Ferretti.

Even the China-made, internationally-praised 42.7-metre King Baby by Zhuhai builder IAG Yachts (a Chinese company acquired in 2015 by Chinese conglomerate Sunbird) is not targeting the Chinese market. At 497 tonnes, King Baby, which is the largest glass fibre motor yacht ever produced in China, is now available for charters in the Caribbean.

But some industry players have managed to lean against the wind. Heysea Yachts, founded in 2007 and one of China’s largest yacht builders, was a new entry in the Boat International Global Order Book’s Top 20 builders in 2018 and holds its place in this year’s report. Chairman Allen Leng explained to the professional journal Boat International that the company is seeing more interest from domestic buyers because it is adapting to local tastes by placing the galley down below and including more living and entertainment space, with fewer cabins. “There is an increased number of Chinese clients who better understand the culture of boating and the lifestyle it offers; that boat ownership is more than having a floating platform for business and to boost one’s image”, said Allen Leng.

No boat culture yet

“More Chinese customers are accepting that China-made yachts offer quality and the same after-sales service as foreign brands”, he added. “We’re also noticing a demand for smaller yachts, which shows the link between sailing and sport and leisure, and that boating is not just a rich person’s pursuit.”

Indeed, in recent years, the number of fishing boats and sailboats between 8 and 15 metres has increased significantly and become a major force in the market, according to the CCYIA. “We have been promoting the two-pole economy of yachts, namely fishing boats and sailboats under 40 feet (12 metres)”, says the association. “CCYIA focuses on promoting the consumption of yachts by the middle class and the promotion of public yachting docks.”

So far, the development of a sailing culture in China has been hindered by many factors, including the impossibility to sail freely along the Chinese coasts, and the lack of dock infrastructures. The shortage of local crew trained in maintenance and sailing boats is also a crucial point. “The Chinese government supports the industry”, CCYIA asserts. “We are gradually introducing policies on pier construction, simplified registration, relaxed regulation and ease of entry and exit. Hainan and Guangdong province will be the pilot.”

“Hainan, as the most developed area of the domestic yacht industry, can seize unprecedented new opportunities and promote the development of yacht tourism under the favourable conditions and strategic policy support at the national level, such as a pilot free-trade zone”, said CCYIA executive vice president and secretary general Zheng Weihang (郑炜航) at the Hainan Yacht Industry Development Summit Forum held in Sanya, the Southernmost city on Hainan island, last December.

Government and overseas boost

Professional newspapers also reported that a new initiative – the Greater Bay Area development scheme – is seeking to unify nine mainland coastal cities to allow yachts licensed in Hong Kong and Macau to cruise in the southern cruising areas around Hainan without paying any tax. And in terms of dock infrastructures, CCYIA mentioned that 35 major projects are under construction in the Guangzhou development zone.

For the aspiring yacht buyers, the Chinese government also just implemented tax reduction measures, including for import taxes. Previously set at more than 41%, the rate has been lowered to 37% after a 3-point cut on the VAT (to 13%) and a slighter cut of customs duties and consumption tax. As for domestic yacht taxes, they enjoyed a 3-point cut, to about 24%, “depending on the amount of imported equipment on board”, a local professional newspaper reported, while specifying that “yachts less than 8 metres long, whether imported or homemade, can be exempted from consumption tax.”

Last year, local basic sailing and crew training received support from overseas. In March 2018, the UK’s deputy ambassador to China, Martyn Roper, and the president of the Chinese Yachting Association, Qu Chun, signed deals to open three training centres to bring Chinese seamanship up to British standards of the Royal Yachting Association (RYA). Although there is still some way to go, an RYA Training Committee member explained that the next steps for the RYA is to run Mandarin Instructor training schemes to provide enough high-quality, RYA-qualified instructors in China to deliver training of all levels domestically before looking to grow the number of training centres in the country.

In Chinese state-run newspaper China Daily, Clipper Round The World Yacht Race CEO William Ward said: “The Clipper Race works very closely with the RYA, and I am proud that its training is recognised by the body. In the UK, 7% of the population sail and if the Clipper Race could help to replicate that in China, there would be approximately 80 million people taking to the water.”

This article has been commissioned and published by JEC Group in JEC Composites Magazine n°130.

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a yacht going astray in china

An increasing number of people in Sanya, south China's Hainan Province, are taking to the high seas on leisure cruises.

Once an activity for only the elite, sailing is now becoming an affordable sport for many.

"It has become really popular. Lots of people can afford it now. About 10 years ago, it would cost around 5,000 yuan ($764) to sail in a boat like this for three hours. But now, the price has dropped to around 2,000 yuan," captain Zhang Hongfa told CGTN.

Apart from soaking up the sun, you can also get some hands-on experience on these cruises.

With a 32,000-kilometer coastline, China is an ideal destination to become a leading yacht market.

For years, the development of a sailing culture in China has been hindered by many factors – a lack of dock infrastructure, a shortage of sailing boats and a crew to maintain them. However, with more support now from the government, such as pilot free trade zones (FTZs), there are signs the yacht industry could soon realize its potential.

"Ten years ago, there were less than 10 yachts in Sanya. Now we have 500 yachts registered in the marine bureau. In 2019, we had 100 yachts available for rent, and by 2020 we had more than 200. So we think that rental services will become more popular in China," said Yan Yaya, president assistant of China Visun Real Estate, which runs one of the biggest yacht companies in China.

"The policies in Hainan Province are great. We want to become a free trade island. Maybe in two or three years, if you buy a yacht in Sanya, you'll be exempt from a lot of tax, so it'll be cheaper than it was 10 years ago," she added.

As part of the plan to boost tourism, Hainan will become a pilot zone for the innovation and development of the yacht industry, after the central government's move to make Hainan a free trade zone. 

Yachts have been highlighted in the sweeping new policy, covering everything from shipping and technology to finance. Companies established within the Hainan Free Trade Zone will be taxed at only 15 percent.

For ordinary people who want a taste of the elite lifestyle, their ship has certainly come in!

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Within a vast and humid hangar in southern China, workers in blue overalls, face masks and straw hats scale the hull of a 108ft superyacht that will soon be completed. The factory once catered for local demand but many boats made here are now bound for Australia, Thailand or Europe.

The drive for exports by Heysea, one of China’s largest yachtmakers, is a sign of how companies are adapting to a downturn in China’s domestic yacht market, once seen as a great prospect for the global industry.

“The domestic market is not good,” says Allen Leng, Heysea’s chairman. “We are going overseas because of a lack of certainty in the Chinese market.”

The company sold about 20 super-yachts in 2012, the height of a yachting frenzy when international boatbuilders and brokers flocked to China for lavish shows where thousands of vessels were sold to a growing business elite.

At about the same time, two Chinese companies acquired European yachtmakers Ferretti and Sunseeker , which were both in trouble following the global financial crisis. The year after, according to Chinese media reports, the domestic industry had sales of Rmb4.15bn ($630m).

But the market was driven by companies snapping up boats to act as venues to host wealthy clients and government officials. A culture of private yachting failed to emerge.

That made the sector an obvious target for the crackdown on corruption championed by President Xi Jinping.

Legitimate corporate clients still exist — Heysea was planning to host potential buyers from property group Evergrande when the Financial Times visited — but they have shrunk dramatically. Several Chinese yachtmakers went bankrupt in the downturn, according to Mr Leng. Now sales are a quarter of what they were at the peak and the company expects to sell five superyachts this year.

“It was like a high-speed train that stops because, eventually, it has to stop,” says Delphine Lignières, co-founder of Hainan Rendez-Vous, a leading Chinese boat show.

Some of China’s largest boat makers, such as Sunbird, have switched to building tourist boats or coastguard ships, which are used to assert China’s contested territorial claims in the South and East China seas. Heysea says it is selling more vessels in other Asian and Pacific markets — including one to an Australian client who wanted pole-dancing equipment aboard. “It seemed a little lowbrow,” says Mr Leng.

There are signs the domestic market is beginning to recover. A tech boom centred around the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen has created a market, he says. “Now our clients are more diverse and the proportion of genuine yachting enthusiasts has increased  . . . but the overall number is still small.”

Views of the Moana 65 at the Da Peng Yacht Club.

The same market is being chased by start-up Moana Yachts, which has been battling the industry downturn. Its co-founder Chris Wang, who studied boat design in New Zealand, strides across the deck of one of the company’s catamarans, sold for about $1m at a private marina near Shenzhen. “A lot of companies went bankrupt. But that was a chance for us,” he says.

The company has sold several boats this year to customers working mainly in finance and technology. “There is a change from companies to individuals who want to take family holidays,” he adds. The catamaran features a karaoke system, generally seen as a must-have for Chinese customers.

At the height of China’s yachting boom, “the [buyers] didn’t care about cost, they just wanted face. They would pay three times over the market price for foreign brands. It was highly irrational,” says Moana Yachts’ fellow co-founder Huang Jun.

Looking out at boats moored at the marina, Mr Huang says: “There are about 200 yachts here and about 70 per cent will not leave the yacht club. They were bought for face, and then buyers realised they had no use for them.”

Now the market is “more rational”, he says, “people actually want to use their boats.” But there is still a need for businesses to entertain customers. “Customers have a desire for face, they need the interiors to look good.”

Huang Jun, co-founder of Moana Yachts

Sales in China are hampered by a 44 per cent tax on imported motor yachts. Domestic manufacturers also pay hefty value added tax and duties on imported parts such as engines.

We want to move [yachting] from being an elite to a middle-class thing Allen Leng

On top of this tax burden, China lacks superyacht berths. Even for smaller boats, costs in private marinas remain prohibitively high. Chinese property companies rushed to build marinas during the boom, hoping to snap up corporate customers to pay mooring fees up to Rmb1m ($150,000) a year.

But with the downturn, that model has come under strain. The Xiangshan yacht club in the province of Fujian, billed as Asia’s largest, went bankrupt in 2014. Others have cut their prices by as much as half in recent years.

“We need public marinas built by the government,” says Heysea’s Mr Leng, echoing a widespread industry view that China should encourage sailing and its associated tourist trade as part of a drive towards a more consumption-based economy. “The government is paying attention,” he adds. “We want to move [yachting] from being an elite to a middle-class thing.”

There is uncertainty, though, over whether the Communist party will support the yachting sector while the latter retains an association with corrupt elites. “It will never be a mainstream thing,” Mr Leng admits, citing official statistics that there are only a few thousand registered yachts in mainland China.

Government rules that limit to 12 the number of passengers, including staff, are also stifling growth in the charter market. “Patrol boats come to check the numbers. That’s why people buy boats and ship them to Thailand, where they can do anything,” says Mr Wang.

Mike Simpson, a broker based in Hong Kong, says: “Owners are now moving their yachts to Thailand, which is a popular Chinese tourist destination and other parts of Southeast Asia where they may have business interests or a second residence. For some who can afford a larger superyacht, the Mediterranean is an option.”

For now, it appears, the future of Chinese yachting lies largely outside China itself.

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Yachting in China

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It is believed that the Chinese have a different perception of yachting compared to Europeans since they have not been exposed to it for a long time, lacking the necessary knowledge and experience. However, as time passes, the Chinese empire is starting to participate in water sports and recreation.

Despite the abundance of information available about China, much of what is happening in the country remains a mystery to us. We have tried to explore how the yachting industry on the mainland is faring, without touching on specific topics like Taiwan and Hong Kong, which merit a separate discussion.

Surprises in China

The number of affluent people in China is rapidly increasing. In 2013, China ranked second globally in terms of the number of millionaires – 2,378,000 people; an 82% increase from the previous year. Furthermore, half of these millionaires, according to research by Barclays and Ledbury Research, plan to move to other countries over the next five years, with less than 1% of them purchasing yachts. There are several reasons for this relatively low demand, including a negative attitude towards yacht purchases due to national culture, high taxes (up to 40% on imported vessels), and weak yacht legislation. Additionally, not every location is suitable for yachting, with coasts and large rivers heavily polluted and congested with commercial and other vessels. As such, many people prefer to keep their boats in Hong Kong, where the infrastructure is more developed.

Between 2006 and 2010, China’s yachting industry grew from virtually nothing to $3.4 billion (a 732% increase). There is a rapidly growing middle class in the country (15% of the working population, with 1% annual growth), and while many of these people cannot afford Rolls-Royces, they are interested in yachts and tend to purchase relatively inexpensive locally produced models costing $80-160 thousand.

At exhibitions, European shipyard and designer representatives have noted that the Chinese use yachts differently from Europeans. They are not inclined towards long cruises or accommodation on board, and yachts serve primarily for entertaining friends and business clients. Salons are used for karaoke, dancing, board games, and cinemas. As such, local preferences regarding layouts and design are quite distinct. After having fun, the Chinese typically go home and do not spend the night on board their yachts.

China also faces the issue of its reputation as a manufacturer of cheap consumer goods. Not all potential buyers are prepared to accept that their luxury yacht is made in China. Although the quality of Chinese boats is not always satisfactory by European and American standards, local shipyards are steadily improving in this regard, including by seeking the expertise of foreign specialists. Conversely, there are people who are willing to compromise on interior detailing but get a yacht that is longer than what can be built in Europe for their money. Despite this, China has already entered the top ten countries producing yachts over 24 meters long and is actively creating new brands with its own design, closing the gap with Europe not only in quality but also in price.

Market Conditions

Currently, the combined yacht market of Europe and the United States accounts for 95% of the world market. Although China recovered more quickly than the Old and New Worlds from the economic crisis of 2008, many large manufacturers believed that massive expansion into Asia would help them weather hard times. However, the growth of the yacht market in China began back in 2005, and by 2020, its turnover should reach $10 billion (about 100,000 yachts) according to the most conservative estimates, and up to $30 billion according to the most optimistic estimates. The question is whether this country can achieve it.

In 2013, China declared it the Year of Marine Tourism. The development plan for this industry emphasized the formation of yachting and related infrastructure. At that time, only about 3,000 yachts were registered in the country, which meant one vessel for every 452,000 people. For comparison, in Italy, this ratio is 1:100. However, it should be noted that due to imperfect legislation, a significant number of unregistered yachts are “living” in China.

China’s GDP growth has been declining over the past three years and stood at 7.4% in 2014, but the government sees this generally negative trend as an opportunity to take a breath. Among other factors, the introduction of an austerity regime in state-owned companies and anti-corruption programs has contributed to a slight decrease in the growth rate of the yacht market in China in recent years. Interestingly, some market players are happy about this because they believe that the industry will have time to comprehend what has been achieved, and people will have time to learn yachting.

At the same time, every year, the market is becoming increasingly fragmented. It is now more important for the Chinese not just to own a yacht (often for no particular reason, more to demonstrate status) but to purchase a vessel according to their needs, whether it is a fishing, racing, or pleasure boat. They are beginning to understand that, for example, an expedition yacht makes it possible to circumnavigate the world, and a catamaran can accommodate more guests. Against the backdrop of “status” owners, more and more people who fall in love with the ocean gradually acquire a boat to be closer to nature.

Manufacturing Sector

China’s yachting market is primarily driven by production, which is outpacing still-weak demand many times over. Just 15 years ago, the only “yachts” that were built in China were fiberglass river boats for transporting tourists, with no special interiors, master cabins, or other “excesses.” Today, the country, which is one of the three leaders in the world in commercial shipbuilding, has more than 300 shipyards that mainly build inexpensive boats up to 9 meters long. Small and medium-sized companies, in addition to pleasure yachts and boats, produce fishing trawlers and fast boats for work purposes. The absence of a narrow yachting specialization allows them to quickly switch during global economic upheavals, for example, to government orders while maintaining staff, production, and income. Whenever possible, they try to increase the length of their vessels, but the lion’s share of sales is still small (7–15 meters). Those shipyards that build exclusively yachts either belong to the state or foreigners. Today, the largest cluster of yacht shipbuilding is located in the city of Pingsha. Zhuhai Pingsha Yacht Industrial Park, founded in 2002, already has about 60 shipyards and component manufacturers.

As for foreigners, factories of about 50 foreign brands are located in China because production costs there are 20-30% lower than in Europe or the USA. Many outboard motor manufacturers, including Mercury Marine, Suzuki, and Yamaha, have long established their own facilities in China. In 2005, the Brunswick Corporation invested $12.6 million in a plant in Zhuhai, where the production of Sea Ray boats began (with 90% of the materials supplied from the USA).

In addition to shipyards, manufacturers of yacht components are growing by leaps and bounds in China. However, key components and assemblies, such as engines, are mostly imported as customers want to see brand-name equipment with developed service on their boats.

The trend toward Chinese production in the yachting industry is not just about cost savings. Some of the most renowned naval architects and designers have started collaborating with Chinese shipyards. For instance, the famous Dutch naval architect, Guido de Groot, has completed several projects with China’s Horizon Yachts. Meanwhile, Benetti, the Italian yacht builder, recently delivered a 50-meter yacht, FB703, built at the Benetti shipyard in Livorno, Italy, but designed for a Chinese owner. This could signify a shift from producing low-cost yachts for export to building high-end custom yachts for the domestic market.

In conclusion, while the Chinese yachting market is still in its early stages, the country’s potential as a major player in the global yacht industry cannot be ignored. Although demand has been relatively weak, production has continued to grow at a steady pace, and many manufacturers believe that investing in the Chinese market will pay off in the long run. As the Chinese become more knowledgeable about yachting and develop a greater appreciation for the sport, the country’s yachting industry is likely to experience significant growth in the coming years.

Import and Export

The yacht industry’s import and export volume in China grows every year, with over a hundred foreign brands being promoted by local dealers. Italy, the United Kingdom, and France are the leading exporters of pleasure craft to China.

European companies understand the potential of the Chinese market and are aware that it may not bring them significant profits in the short term. However, they aim to stake out a place and maximize brand awareness in preparation for the time when growth reaches its peak. Some companies have gone beyond simple marketing, such as the Italian Mondo Marine, which acquired a stake in the Chinese shipyard Sease Yacht Co. Ltd, making Sease Yacht a dealer for Mondo Marine and involved in the construction of three fiberglass yachts ranging from 54 to 88 feet.

The reverse process is equally intensive, with powerful Chinese corporations taking advantage of the 2008 crisis and actively buying up liquid assets in the US and Europe. This trend has fully affected the yachting industry. The Ferretti Group was the first major acquisition, with 75% acquired by the Shandong Heavy Industry Group – Weichai Group, followed by Sunseeker Yachts, which Dalian Wanda Group bought for €320 million, and Sanlorenzo, of which Sundiro Holding Group bought 22.99%, investing €20 million.

Every year, more Chinese companies participate in international exhibitions, though some European market participants still view them with suspicion. The Chinese International Boat Show (Shanghai) is considered the main one in China, followed by the exhibition in Hainan, which is the main event for superyachts in Asia. In addition to these, there are about 40 regional exhibitions.

State and Yachting

Seven years ago, China lacked a unified legislative framework governing the registration and operation of pleasure yachts. Since then, the state has taken important steps, such as the Chinese Classification Society adopting a set of rules in 2008 to certify and classify pleasure craft for subsequent registration. Many provinces now allow the registration of yachts owned by non-residents, and Hainan Island has become one of the most open and free-water areas in the country.

The issue of standardizing the training of yachting professionals and improving navigation safety on pleasure yachts is quite acute in China. The introduction of uniform standards for the licensing of boat masters in 2001, and the recognition of foreign “rights” with a procedure for obtaining a national license based on them, has been a relief to many owners. Significant progress has also been made in the field of vocational education, with Chinese manufacturers initiating a dialogue with technological universities about conducting specialized courses. Shanghai Jia Tong University, Maritime University, and Huazhong University have responded to the call and are interested in developing specialized training programs.

Yachting Infrastructure in China

Mainland China has abundant yachting opportunities, including 90,000 lakes, 6,500 islands, and 18,000 km of coastline. The number of marinas is increasing every year, with existing ones expanding capacity, and large yacht clubs are seeking membership in prestigious European organizations, such as the Yacht Club Monaco. However, some marinas are built to increase the value of the adjacent real estate, rather than addressing yachtsmen’s needs for mooring places. Despite the high cost of membership, owners do not always receive direct profits.

Hainan Island is one of the most appealing destinations for wealthy people due to its developed yachting infrastructure and excellent climate. About 40% of China’s registered yachts are located in the prestigious Hainan marinas.

Qingdao in the Shandong province on the coast of the East China Sea is also a valued destination for yachting. Ten years ago, yachts were not known in this city, but it now hosts the stages of the Volvo Ocean Race and Clipper Race. Haier, a major consumer electronics retailer headquartered in Qingdao, owns several corporate boats, including the Sunseeker 88, which is used exclusively for business receptions or as a mobile office.

Yachting is also becoming popular in the business environment as a team-building program, as it requires participants to demonstrate leadership qualities and the ability to think and act in difficult conditions, which is typical for the sport. Since 2007, China has actively developed sailing, and it hosts the international regatta CCIR (China Cup International Regatta); in 2014, 103 teams from 30 countries participated in the event, including Russia.

Chinese wisdom says that time is the best assistant in any business. The Chinese are gradually moving forward, and we are witnessing new developments in the yachting industry. East and West have already exchanged yachting embassies, and they have put forward their vanguards, waiting for the main forces to set in motion. When this happens, the world will witness the rise of Chinese yachting. For now, everything is just beginning in the Middle Kingdom.

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China sends dozens of warplanes and ships near Taiwan to show its anger over island’s new leaders

Taiwan is tracking dozens of Chinese warplanes and navy vessels off its coast on the second day of a large exercise the People’s Liberation Army held in response to the island’s new leadership.

a yacht going astray in china

Taiwan tracked dozens of Chinese warplanes and navy vessels off its coast Thursday on the day of a large exercise China’s People’s Liberation Army held in response to the island’s new leadership.

In this photo released by the Taiwan Ministry of National Defense, Taiwan guided missile destroyer Ma Kong DDG1805, left, monitors Chinese guided missile destroyer Xi'an DDG15, right, near Taiwan on Thursday, May 23, 2024. Taiwan tracked dozens of Chinese warplanes and navy vessels off its coast Friday on the second day of a large exercise China's People's Liberation Army held in response to the inauguration of the island's new leadership. (Taiwan Ministry of National Defense via AP)

In this photo released by the Taiwan Ministry of National Defense, Taiwan guided missile destroyer Ma Kong DDG1805, left, monitors Chinese guided missile destroyer Xi’an DDG15, right, near Taiwan on Thursday, May 23, 2024. Taiwan tracked dozens of Chinese warplanes and navy vessels off its coast Friday on the second day of a large exercise China’s People’s Liberation Army held in response to the inauguration of the island’s new leadership. (Taiwan Ministry of National Defense via AP)

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In this photo released by the Taiwan Ministry of National Defense, a Chinese guided missile destroyer is seen near Taiwan on Thursday, May 23, 2024. Taiwan tracked dozens of Chinese warplanes and navy vessels off its coast Friday on the second day of a large exercise China’s People’s Liberation Army held in response to the inauguration of the island’s new leadership. (Taiwan Ministry of National Defense via AP)

Taiwan President Lai Ching-te delivers a speech as he inspects Taiwanese military in Taoyuan, Northern Taiwan, Thursday, May 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

Taiwan President Lai Ching-te, center, arrives to inspect Taiwanese military in Taoyuan, Northern Taiwan, Thursday, May 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

Taiwan President Lai Ching-te, center, poses for a photo during his visit to inspect Taiwanese military in Taoyuan, Northern Taiwan, Thursday, May 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

In this photo released by the Taiwan Coast Guard, a Taiwan Coast Guard member monitor Chinese navy vessel operating near the Pengjia Islet north of Taiwan on Thursday, May 23, 2024. Taiwan scrambled jets and put missile, naval and land units on alert Thursday over Chinese military exercises being conducted around the self-governing island democracy where a new president took office this week. (Taiwan Coast Guard via AP)

Soldiers are assembled in front of the Taiwan national flag in Taoyuan, Northern Taiwan, Thursday, May 23, 2024. Taiwan President Lai Ching-te inspected Taiwanese military on Thursday. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

Taiwan President Lai Ching-te, center, listens to the briefing during his visit to inspect Taiwanese military in Taoyuan, Northern Taiwan, Thursday, May 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

Taiwan President Lai Ching-te, third right in front, listens to the briefing of multiple Stinger missile launcher demonstration during his visit to inspect Taiwanese military in Taoyuan, Northern Taiwan, Thursday, May 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwan tracked dozens of Chinese warplanes and navy vessels off its coast on Friday, the second day of a large military exercise launched by Beijing to show its anger over the self-governing island’s inauguration of new leaders who refuse to accept its insistence that Taiwan is part of China.

China has issued elaborate media statements showing Taiwan being surrounded by forces from its military, the People’s Liberation Army. A new video on Friday showed animated Chinese forces approaching from all sides and Taiwan being enclosed within a circular target area while simulated missiles hit key population and military targets.

Despite that, there was little sign of concern among Taiwan’s 23 million people, who have lived under threat of Chinese invasion since the two sides split during a civil war in 1949. Taiwan’s parliament was mired on Friday in a dispute between political parties over procedural measures, and business continued as usual in the bustling capital of Taipei and the ports of Keelong and Kaohsiung.

The defense ministry said it tracked 49 Chinese warplanes and 19 navy vessels, as well as coast guard vessels, and that 35 of the planes flew across the median line in the Taiwan Strait, the de facto boundary between the two sides, over a 24-hour period from Thursday to Friday.

Sumini, a leader of a female ranger group, uses a machete to clear the way during a forest patrol in Damaran Baru, Aceh province, Indonesia, Tuesday, May 7, 2024. The patrol group was started by Sumini, who witnessed the devastating effects of deforestation on her local village. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

Taiwanese marine and coast guard vessels along with air and ground-based missile units have been put on alert, particularly around the Taiwan-controlled island chains of Kinmen and Matsu just off China’s coast and far from Taiwan’s main island.

“Facing external challenges and threats, we will continue to maintain the values of freedom and democracy,” Taiwan’s new president, Lai Ching-te told sailors and top security officials Thursday as he visited a marine base in Taoyuan, just south of the capital, Taipei.

The Pentagon said the United States was “monitoring very closely” the joint Chinese drills. It said Beijing’s actions “are reckless, risk escalation, and erode longstanding norms that have maintained regional peace and stability for decades.”

“We strongly urge Beijing to act with restraint,” it said.

In his inauguration speech on Monday, Lai urged Beijing to stop its military intimidation and said Taiwan was “a sovereign independent nation in which sovereignty lies in the hands of the people.”

China’s military said its expanded exercises around Taiwan were punishment for separatist forces seeking independence. It sends navy ships and warplanes into the Taiwan Strait and other areas around the island almost daily to wear down Taiwan’s defenses and seek to intimidate its people, who firmly back their de facto independence.

“As soon as the leader of Taiwan took office, he challenged the one-China principle and blatantly sold the ‘two-state theory,’” the spokesperson of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, Chen Binhua, said in a statement Thursday night.

The one-China principle asserts that there is only one China and that Taiwan is part of China under Communist Party rule. Beijing views Taiwan as a renegade province and has been upping its military threats even as the island’s electorate overwhelmingly favors de facto independence.

In Beijing, international relations professor Shi Yinhong at Renmin University of China said the drills and China’s verbal condemnations of Lai were intended to show Beijing’s anger toward Lai and his administration’s policies. Those include a continuance of his predecessor Tsai Ing-wen’s policies of building a strong national defense and resisting Beijing’s efforts to isolate Taiwan diplomatically.

“It may be regarded as chiefly necessary for convincing the Chinese people about the government’s determination and the armed forces’ progress in capability,” Shi said.

“But Lai, and in a degree the Taiwanese in general, experienced numerous such things. It will not change them and will make the U.S. and its core allies do more in their military support to Taiwan,” Shih said.

U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said it was following China’s drills closely. “We urge the relevant parties to refrain from acts that could escalate tensions in the region,” he said in a statement Thursday.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin, at a daily briefing on Friday, dismissed U.S. calls for China to exercise restraint in relation to the latest drills. The U.S. “is in no position to make such irresponsible remarks,” Wang said.

Washington is legally bound to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself and considers all threats to the island a matter of “grave concern.”

The U.S. has been aiding in the upgrading of Taiwan’s equipment and training, even while its official policy remains ambiguous on whether American troops and those of regional allies would be dispatched to defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack.

China’s exercises come on the heels of combined drills by U.S. and its Dutch NATO ally in the disputed South China Sea, a crucial waterway for global trade, fisheries and energy resources which China claims virtually in its entirety.

China routinely objects to activities in the region by foreign military forces it accuses of acting without mandate outside their home regions. China has particularly pressed its claims against the Philippines.

The Philippines Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro on Friday criticized Beijing’s increasingly aggressive actions in the South China Sea, without citing China by name,. He spoke at a military ceremony marking the anniversary of the founding of the Philippine navy.

The Philippines, he said, would not tolerate aggression and provocative moves.

Since territorial hostilities with China surged last year in the South China Sea, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s administration has taken steps to forge new security alliances with a number of Asian and Western countries and allowed a U.S. military presence in more Philippine bases under a 2014 defense pact.

Associated Press writer Jim Gomez in Manila, Philippines, contributed to this report. Follow AP’s Asia-Pacific coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/asia-pacific

a yacht going astray in china

Hoist the sails as Li teaches kids about yaughting

a yacht going astray in china

A group of autistic children learnt to cooperate and communicate with others through yachting in Zhangzhou, Fujian province.

Accompanied by their parents, volunteers and the coach Li Liyong, children, wearing life jackets, boarded a yacht one day in late August. With guidance of Li, children cooperated to untie the rope, hoist the sails and steer. With the yacht leaving the shore, they adjusted their sitting posture with change of the direction and speed of the yacht.

Li, 39, learnt yachting from eight years old, and was a national yachting team athlete. In 2013, he visited a special education school and contacted autistic children for the first time.

"The ocean and yachting give me power, but will it also take them out of a closed spiritual world?" Li said.

Nobody supported his idea because the sport has risks, especially concerning children. Li didn't give up. He visited several schools and read materials about how to deal with autistic children.

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National security correspondent focusing on the Pentagon in Washington D.C. Reports on U.S. military activity and operations throughout the world and the impact that they have. Has reported from over two dozen countries to include Iraq, Afghanistan, and much of the Middle East, Asia and Europe. From Karachi, Pakistan.

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Xinghui leads the Singapore bureau, directing coverage of one of the region’s bellwether economies and Southeast Asia's main financial hub. This ranges from macroeconomics to monetary policy, property, politics, public health and socioeconomic issues. She also keeps an eye on things that are unique to Singapore, such as how it repealed an anti-gay sex law but goes against global trends by maintaining policies unfavourable to LGBT families. https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/even-singapore-lifts-gay-sex-ban-lgbt-families-feel-little-has-changed-2022-11-29/ Xinghui previously covered Asia for the South China Morning Post and has been in journalism for a decade.

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Envoy: China-US relations should not be led astray by 'wandering balloon'

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-02-18 14:04

a yacht going astray in china

China-US relations should not be led astray by a "wandering balloon", a senior Chinese envoy wrote in an article published in Washington on Friday.

The downing of an unmanned civilian Chinese airship by an American missile on Feb 4 has further strained the relationship between China and the United States, which labeled the airship a "spy balloon".

In the past few weeks, the accidental entry of the balloon into US airspace, and the US handling of the matter, brought new challenges to the relationship, testing the two countries' ability to properly address an unexpected incident, Xu Xueyuan, charge d'affaires of the Chinese embassy in the United States, wrote in an op-ed.

"We sincerely hope that the United States will work with China and not allow a wandering balloon to lead the bilateral relationship astray," Xu said in the article published on The Washington Post.

"We look forward to concrete steps to prevent the situation from going further down the wrong path, so that the China-US relationship can return to a track of sound and stable development," she added.

In her article, Xu noted that the airship, which was used for meteorological research, unintentionally entered US airspace because of the westerlies and its limited self-steering capability.

China has made these details available to the US after "earnest verification" and in the shortest possible time, calling the situation to be handled in a calm, professional and quiet manner.

Still, the US labeled the airship as China's "spy balloon" of the People's Liberation Army, and shot it down, though it posed no real security threat.

The United States also alleged that China has a high-altitude surveillance balloon program targeting the world, and illegally imposed sanctions on six Chinese companies and institutions.

"The overreaction by America — and its moves to heighten the issue — have exacerbated the situation. This isolated incident has caused new wounds in China-US relations," she wrote.

Xu said that many of the issues between the two countries originate from strategic misperception and misjudgment, and the difficulty caused by the airship's accidental entrance in US airspace is just another example.

"When the China-US relationship enters a difficult patch, we must show the courage and wisdom to respect facts and return to reason," the envoy wrote.

"Sensational and politically driven moves harm everyone. By handling this balloon incident properly, China and the US would prove to their people, and the world, that they can respect each other and act responsibly to manage differences and avoid confrontation," she wrote.

Xu's article appeared a day after US President Joe Biden made his first extended statement on Thursday about the spate of floating craft above North America.

The three objects shot down since the downing of the balloon early this month were likely research balloons, not spy craft, Biden said.

Biden said the balloon episode "underscores the importance of maintaining open lines of communication between our diplomats and our military professionals".

He said that while diplomats will be engaging further, he will remain in communication with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Xu wrote that China stands for more dialogue between the two countries at all levels, which has been an important understanding reached between Xi and Biden at their Bali meeting three months ago.

"It falls on both sides to implement it. If we condense the past experiences of our bilateral relations, they point to this: China and the United States both gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation," she wrote.

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China Lands Spacecraft on Far Side of the Moon

The landing brings the Chang’e-6 mission a step closer to being the first to return a sample from the part of the moon that’s never seen from Earth.

A rocket rises from its launchpad in a burst of flame and smoke.

By Yan Zhuang

China successfully landed a lunar lander on the far side of the moon on Sunday morning, the country’s space agency announced, taking the mission one step closer to bringing back the first sample from the part of the moon that earthlings never see.

The Chang’e-6 unmanned probe touched down on the moon’s South Pole-Aitken basin at 6:23 a.m., China’s National Space Administration said in a statement .

The agency released a video taken by the landing camera as the probe touched down. In the video, the surface of the moon, pockmarked with craters, gets closer and closer as the lander descends.

Chang’e-6, named after the Chinese moon goddess, is the second mission to have touched down on the far side of the moon. Its predecessor, Chang’e-4, made history as the first to do so in 2019.

The far side of the moon is distinct from the near side, where the United States, China and what was then the Soviet Union have gathered samples. It has a thicker crust, more craters and fewer maria, or plains where lava once flowed. It’s unclear why the two sides of the moon are so different; the samples collected by Chang’e-6 could provide some clues.

The South Pole-Aitken basin, a massive impact crater about 1,600 miles wide, is among the largest in the history of the solar system, and the impact that created it is thought to have dug up material from the lunar mantle. That material, if it can be retrieved, could help scientists learn more about the history of the moon’s insides.

China is the only country to have sent missions to the far side of the moon so far, and the missions are part of its growing space ambitions in an increasingly competitive global environment . The country has successfully launched a mission to Mars and has plans for a future visit to an asteroid . It also aims to put a person on the moon before 2030 , which would make it the second nation to do so after the United States.

Chang’e-6 is the third mission to land on the moon this year. Japan became the world’s fifth country to reach the moon’s surface when its Smart Lander for Investigating Moon landed there in January. Odysseus, a privately operated spacecraft built by Intuitive Machines of Houston, landed in February .

Chang’e-6 lifted off on May 3 from the Wenchang space site on Hainan Island in southern China. It reached the moon on May 8, China’s space agency said , and orbited it for several weeks before touching down. The descent took about 14 minutes, and the probe used cameras and 3-D laser scanning to avoid obstacles as it landed, the agency said.

The probe will collect samples for about two days, gathering rocks and soil from the lunar surface and also drilling down into the ground to collect subsurface samples, the agency said.

It will then spend additional weeks in lunar orbit preparing for a five-day return trip to Earth. The full mission is expected to take about 53 days, according to the agency .

Missions to the far side of the moon are complex because it is impossible to directly establish communications with probes there.

In 2018, China sent the Queqiao satellite into lunar orbit to relay information from Chang’e-4 to Earth. It launched a second satellite this March. The two satellites will be used in tandem to remain in contact with Chang’e-6 as it collects samples.

Zixu Wang contributed reporting.

Yan Zhuang is a Times reporter in Seoul who covers breaking news. More about Yan Zhuang

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An oil tanker going from Russia to China is hit by a Houthi missile in the Red Sea, U.S. military says

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A China-bound oil tanker in the Red Sea was struck and temporarily disabled by a ballistic anti-ship missile fired by Houthi militants, the US Central Command said.

The strike Saturday on the Greek-owned M/T Wind caused flooding that knocked out its propulsion and steering, which the crew restored without help from a coalition vessel that responded to a distress call. The Wind, which most recently docked in Russia, resumed its course under its own power, Centcom  said in a statement . No casualties were reported.

While Centcom didn’t provide a location, Agence-France Presse reported earlier Saturday that an oil tanker was hit near the Bab el-Mandeb strait, about 10 nautical miles (19 kilometers) southwest of the Yemeni port of Mokha. AFP cited maritime security firm Ambrey. 

Iran-backed Houthis have been attacking warships and merchant vessels passing through the Red Sea since mid-November, especially those linked to Israel, the US and the UK, in response to Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza. They’ve effectively closed a key global shipping route, forcing ships traveling between Asia and Europe to avoid the Suez Canal and go around southern Africa. 

Separately, UK Maritime Trade Operations earlier reported a vessel with some damage, 98 nautical miles south of Al Hudaydah, Yemen. The ship known as the Master sustained slight damage after being struck by an unknown object on the port quarter. The ship and its crew were safe and continued to their next port of call.

Shipping and freight executives believe the Red Sea will remain too dangerous for many more months, if not the rest of the year putting some upwards pressure on energy markets.

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  19. Envoy: China-US relations should not be led astray by 'wandering

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    China has sent dozens of warplanes and navy vessels off Taiwan's coast on the second day of a large exercise launched to show its anger over the island's inauguration of new leaders who refuse to accept Beijing's insistence that Taiwan is part of China. Menu. Menu. World. U.S. Election 2024. Politics. Sports. Entertainment.

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