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James Chao

FOREMOST founder and chairman James Chao has been named the 2018 Lloyd’s List Americas Awards Lifetime Achievement winner.

Founded in 1964, Foremost Group is a global shipping, trading and finance enterprise based in New York.

It is a pioneer in promoting more environmentally friendly ship design and technology into its expanding fleet of new vessels — some of the world’s largest bulk carriers. 

Since 2011 the company, under the guidance of Mr Chao’s daughter Angela, has ordered or taken delivery of 10 bulkers ranging from 85,000 dwt to 180,000 dwt, according to Lloyd’s List Intelligence.

It ordered four 210,000 Newcastlemax vessels at Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding, a wholly-owned subsidiary of China CSSC Holding, in January this year, according to Clarksons Research. It had previously ordered another two Newcastlemax vessels at the same yard in December 2017. 

In August 2017 Foremost ordered two 85,000 dwt vessels at Japan's Oshima Shipyard, according to Clarksons.  

American dream

James Chao is a strong proponent of how a strong education can help people progress. 

He was born on December 29, 1927, in a small, rural farming village in Jiading District, outside Shanghai, in the Republic of China. His parents were Yi-Ren Chao, head of an elementary school, and Yu-Chin Hsu Chao. They were farmers who emphasised the value of education.

Dr. Chao attended upper schools near Shanghai, including National Chiao Tung University and National Wusong merchant marine college, where he majored in navigation. He finished his coursework in 1949 and went to sea as a cadet on a merchant vessel.

The government changed and all the ports were blocked. Dr. Chao’s ship was unable to return to Shanghai and instead proceeded to Taiwan.

At the age of 29, he advanced through the ranks to become one of the youngest ocean-going marine captains of that time. 

He later took a national Master Mariner Examination and achieved the highest score ever recorded. This achievement gave him the opportunity to pursue further studies in America. 

His wife was then seven months pregnant with their third daughter. The young family was separated for three years before he could bring his wife and then three daughters to America. He earned a master's degree in management from St John's University, Queens, in 1964. 

In recognition of his long-standing service and dedication to the international maritime trading industry, Dr. Chao was inducted into the International Maritime Hall of Fame at the United Nations.

Active philanthropists, Dr. Chao and his late wife, Mrs. Ruth Mulan Chu Chao, established a small foundation in 1984 to provide scholarships to help students in the United States and Asia access higher education.

The Chaos have six daughters: Elaine, Jeanette, May, Christine, Grace and Angela. 

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