One out of every 5 container ships worldwide is waiting outside a Chinese port due to heavy congestion brought in by covid lockdown in China . This could mean that another supply chain crisis is looming large on the horizon, waiting to crumble the global supply chain. The first signs became visible in March 2022, when the volume of goods being shipped by sea out of Shanghai dropped by 26%. It was seen that between March 12, when the targeted lockdown was introduced, and April 4, the volume of goods leaving the Shanghai ports by trucks fell by 19% . The scale of the problem hanging over our heads can be sensed by the AIS data of the ships around China, which depicts 300 container ships and 500 bulk ships waiting off the coast of China .
The story begins with the outbreak of the omicron variant in China, following which the Chinese Government resorted to its tried and tested method of initiating its zero covid policy. China’s zero covid policy is directly responsible for such a steep drop in cargo movement. There are enormous backlogs of cargo to be shipped and to be received. At this point, even if the lockdown were to be magically removed, it would be cold comfort to the supply chain professionals as it only opens the floodgates for the crisis to progress.
Recently the maritime industry became aware of what has been stated in the media as “China’s terrestrial AIS data blackout”. Following two new data security laws in China, the reception of data from China became challenging. The new Data Security Law (DSL) and Personal Information Protection Law, both coming into effect on Nov 1, 2021, intend to increase government control over domestic and overseas companies collecting and exporting China’s data. Industry experts are concerned about how those changes might impact ocean supply chain visibility in China, especially taking into account the country’s leading role in global container shipping and coal and iron ore import. Besides, mainland China is home to six of the world’s ten largest container ports.
FleetMon collaborates with several Chinese companies and AIS Partners to receive terrestrial vessel position data from Chinese coastal waters. The new rules restrict foreign access to important data like vessels’ AIS signals collected in China without the government’s prior notice and approval. Some of our loyal AIS Partners and data sharers from China have paused transmitting data in fear of massive fines announced by the Chinese government in case of law violations.
Now, how severe is the impact of China’s new Data Security Laws on AIS coverage in the region?
Climate change is shaping to be one of the most prominent threats so far in the 21th century. With the shipping industry being an inextricable part of global logistics, it contributes to about 18 percent of some air pollutants. The International Maritime Organization (IMO), with this in view has adopted regulations to reduce emissions of Greenhouse Gases (GHG). The directive in MARPOL annex 6 to reduce sulfur emissions to 0.5% is currently being enforced since 1st January 2020.
There’s a popular saying in the Maritime sector: Whatever happens in China, affects global shipping. Remember the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic when ports all across China were closed off? According to Alphaliner, more tonnage of container ships remained idled around the world than during the global financial crisis during this period. Daily charter rates for tankers and bulk freighters plummeted more than 70% from normal levels as China bought less oil, iron ore, and coal.
We used FleetMon’s historical AIS data to investigate irregularities year-over-year regarding vessel activity and maritime traffic at the Chinese coast and other crucial waterways related to Coronavirus spreading. Part 1/2
Vessel activity at Chinese Coast drops every year around Lunar New Year
In 2020: the drop lasts 6 weeks instead of 2 to 3 weeks due to Corona crisis
FleetMon investigated on the vessel activity of principal waterways via historical AIS data
No Coronavirus-related reduction in global vessel activity visible yet