As a cub reporter starting out covering the shipping industry 16 years ago in Hong Kong I knew next to nothing about the sector (insert reader jokes here!). Among many mentors who were kind enough to school me in the way shipping works was Arthur Bowring, the managing director of the Hong Kong Shipowners Association (HKSOA). Arthur has been a brilliant spokesperson for Hong Kong maritime for the past 20 years. Arguably no one has done more to champion the sector since the territory was handed back to China in 1997.
Keen readers of Splash will know we don’t do awards ceremonies – quite the opposite in fact. Nevertheless, when we caught wind that Arthur was set to relinquish his post at the HKSOA at the end of this month we quickly decided to rejig our Hong Kong special magazine to make it as a tribute to the great man. We canvassed leading names from local and world shipping for their thoughts on Arthur’s contribution to the sector and fantastic accolades from far and wide poured in.
This magazine is being distributed across Hong Kong Maritime Industry Week, which has really taken off this year with more than 40 events on a wide range of topics ensuring the city’s shipping sector gets the attention it deserves. We’re putting on three events ourselves during a hectic few days in the Special Administrative Region.
Speak it quietly, but I do feel that finally there is more joined up thinking about Hong Kong as a shipping hub – the merger to create the Hong Kong Maritime and Port Board was a smart move. Likewise, while not at all popular with the local population, the territory’s political leader, C Y Leung, has been the most pro-shipping top politician since reunification. Shipping will miss Leung when he steps down next year.
The fact is we at Splash are hearing of more and more shipowners who are looking at boosting their presence in the former British colony.
For too much of my shipping reporting career I’ve had to write about how this great maritime cluster was losing its status (despite champions such as Arthur ensuring it always has punched above its weight). Now however I am relieved to genuinely feel the tide has turned and world shipping is reassessing its opinion on Hong Kong.
To access the full Splash Hong Kong magazine, click here.