CSSC Appoints Defense Executive as New Chairman

World's largest naval shipbuilder is expanding the PLA Navy's fleet at a rapid pace

Wen Gang, right, during his tenure as chairman of Norinco, 2019 (Norinco file image)

Published Feb 2, 2023 8:10 PM by The Maritime Executive

China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) has selected a new chairman to fill a year-long vacancy, and it has chosen an executive with a background in China's defense establishment. 

The new chairman and secretary of the Party Committee at CSSC is Wen Gang, a mechanical engineer by training who worked his way up through the ranks at China North Industries Corporation (Norinco). The company is the People's Liberation Army's main defense contractor, and it manufactures a full range of armaments for the Chinese military and export customers, from firearms to missiles to UAVs and bombs. It also has interests in civilian industrial products and civil construction.

Wen Gang joined Norinco in 1997 after completing his MBA, and he oversaw a variety of chemical and explosives manufacturing enterprises within the group's portfolio, according to biographical data compiled by the ChinaVitae project. He became general manager of Norinco's group company in 2014, and he was promoted to chairman and secretary of the Party Committee at Norinco in 2018. 

The top-level appointment did not appear to last long, and prominent Chinese outlet The Paper reported that Wen was replaced in early 2019. After departing Norinco, he became chairman and party secretary of the newly-formed China Rongtong Asset Management Group Corporation Limited, a restructuring management group tasked with reforming state-owned enterprises.

At CSSC, he will be charged with running the world's largest naval shipbuilding enterprise, responsible for modernizing and expanding China's PLA Navy. The U.S. Department of Defense predicts that China will have a fleet of 400 warships by 2025, with its growth driven primarily by the delivery of two modern CSSC-built surface combatants - the Type 52D destroyer and the 13,000-ton Type 55 cruiser.

CSSC is also the world's largest commercial shipbuilder, often intermingling civil and military projects in its drydocks. It is expanding its civil portfolio to include sophisticated vessel classes like LNG carriers, which come with higher profit margins.