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Mainland shippers place order for 50 supertankers

BEIJING -- A group of state-owned Chinese shipping companies have placed a US$4.5 billion order for 50 supertankers, throwing a financial lifeline to China's struggling shipbuilders, a newspaper reported Friday.

The order adds to a multibillion-dollar flurry of investments by state companies in recent weeks — a key element in Beijing's carefully controlled effort to reverse a painful economic slump. The government has approved a wave of spending on new steel mills, subway lines and other corporate and public works projects.

The move also could help China, the world's biggest energy consumer, gain more control over its energy supply chain by owning the giant ships needed to import crude from the Middle East and elsewhere.

The supertankers were ordered by three of China's biggest shippers, China Shipping Group, Dalian Ocean Shipping Co. and China Merchants Group, the 21st Century Business Herald said. It cited the president of China Shipping and the general manager of Dalian Ocean Shipping.

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