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Sailing the 'silk road' to the future

Updated: 2014-12-31 10:23
By DU JUAN (China Daily)

Sailing the 'silk road' to the future

Zhai Mo, China's ocean ambassador with his sailboat.

Royal DSM puts wind into the sails of the nation's 'ocean ambassador'

Zhai Mo, known as China's ocean ambassador and the first Chinese man to circumnavigate the globe in an unpowered sailboat, is hoping for stronger wind in his sails during his upcoming around-the-world trip starting from March 18.

With China's national strategy of promoting the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road very much in mind, Zhai will sail the maritime silk road promoting traditional Chinese art and goods such as porcelain, tea and agricultural goods as well as holding painting and photography exhibitions in local communities along the way.

To help him on his quest, Royal DSM, the Netherlands-based multinational life sciences and materials sciences company, has donated a set of tailor-made sails made of high-strength fiber material.

Zhai completed his first solo voyage in 2009, beginning his journey on Jan 6, 2007 in a 1.2 meter high, 3.85 meter wide unpowered sailboat. Over the following two years, he sailed 33,467 nautical miles around the world, crossing the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

"The meaning of such a voyage goes beyond navigation-there is a kind of beauty to being able to survive ... extremely harsh living conditions," Zhai said.

"With DSM's high-tech fibers built into my sails, my sailboat will run faster and safer this time."

Jiang Weiming, DSM's president in China, said the company makes great efforts at providing innovative and sustainable solutions, and making high-strength fibers for the marine industry is one of its specialties.

Dimitri de Vreeze, head of DSM's material science business, added that innovation not only brings profit but also illustrates the company's caring for people.

"In today's complicated world, there are immense problems that can only be solved jointly by companies, governments and NGOs," said De Vreeze.

"DSM was started as a coal mining company. When you search 600 meters underground for resources, people need reliability, and that has continued in our work today-we care about people and the world, in the hope of doing something meaningful."

DSM's activities cover a variety of industries and products from advanced bio-fuels and environmentally friendly painting materials, to car parts.

De Vreeze claims the company has enjoyed good performance in the China market over the past decade and believes that will continue even with an expected lower GDP growth next year of around 7 percent.

He highlighted the car industry, particularly, as presenting some of the country's greatest challenges.

"There has been a boom in car consumption, which has created a huge market for global manufacturers-but it has also brought severe air pollution in some cities."

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