The sea plays an important part in our world. They connect continents. They connect people. When ships sail from port to port – they not only transport cargoes, but also information and knowledge and spark greater interaction between peoples of different countries, cultures, and backgrounds. With these increased interactions and contact come greater understanding and hopefully greater harmony and peace in the world.
My father grew up in a small farming village outside of Jiading which is outside of Shanghai, China. He was the only child of educated parents who believed in the value of education. My father was always interested in learning and exploring the world outside of his small village. He saw the opportunity to go to sea as a way to broaden his horizons and expand his opportunities in life.
Due to the tumultuous war-torn period in which he came of age, he jumped four levels to become the second mate on a ship. He became the youngest sea captain of his time at age 29. When he immigrated to America, he dreamt of starting his own company. In 1964, he founded Foremost Maritime Company which was the precursor to today’s Foremost Group. Today’s Foremost Group is a company with an impeccable reputation for service/performance, reliability and integrity.
We return today to Keelung which has strong emotional resonance for our family. When he first landed in Taiwan and as a young seafarer, Keelung was my father’s home port. The main thoroughfare, Chung Zheng Road, is a very familiar road to my father as he would often travel this road from Keelung to Taipei and return on the same day, as he was courting my mother, Ruth Mulan Chu Chao (趙朱木蘭) who was living in Taipei. Traveling on this road today, he remembers all the poignant memories of Keelung in his early years. He says back then, it was raining all the time in Keelung, too. Reflecting upon his early days as a young second officer and where he is today, we are filled with gratitude for all the blessing we have received. The oceans gave my father the foundation to build the rest of his life.
My own career started in shipping as well I worked at Foremost for two years before attending Harvard Business School. After Business School, I was a shipping banker with Citicorp. Then, I worked on transportation and trade policies at the White House. Subsequently, I was appointed Deputy Maritime Administrator at the U. S. Department of transportation; Chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission; and Deputy Secretary of U. S. Department of Transportation. My sister, Angela Chao is now the Deputy Chair of Foremost Group. So, shipping is our family tradition.
By educating future seafarers and teaching them rules of the seas, best practices in safety and environmental protection, schools like this promote a higher standard of professionalism for seafarers that benefit the world.
Ocean shipping facilitates trade and with increased trade and exchanges of goods and services come the prospect for economic growth and increased prosperity for people around the world.
My father and I are enormously honored to receive the honorary doctorate degrees from your University. Thank you so much again for this great honor to the both of us.