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Marine expo commemorates great voyager
By Cao Desheng and Wang Shanshan (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-07-09 07:23

SHANGHAI: An international marine exhibition opened in Shanghai on Friday to commemorate the 600th anniversary of the epic voyages by Chinese navigator Zheng He.

The week-long show will detail China's seafaring history and Zheng's seven voyages at the Shanghai Exhibition Centre.

The exhibition also showcases the achievements that China and other countries have made in navigation, shipbuilding, maritime administration and maritime science and technology.

Zheng's fleet, comprising more than 300 vessels and manned by about 27,000 sailors a number unrivalled in the world at that time visited more than 30 countries and regions in Asia and Africa between 1405 and 1433.

He is believed to be the first man to have established a direct sea route linking the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean. His voyages occurred 87 years earlier than Columbus' discovery of America and 114 years earlier than Magellan's round-the-world voyage.

"Zheng He was more an ambassador of peace than a sailor," said Zheng Yijun, a researcher at the Institute of Marine Science at the Academy of Sciences.

He contributed a great deal to the establishment of harmonious international order in his time and his aspirations conform to the nation's determination to maintain peace in international relations, said Zheng, who has researched Zheng He's voyages for decades.

Chen Jie, a first-year student at Shanghai Maritime University, said her university had organized a lot of activities, including academic exchanges, exhibitions and drama performances, to commemorate the pioneering voyages from ancient China.

Monday marks the 600th anniversary of Zheng He's first voyage and the day will become China's Navigation Day starting from this year.

The city's other commemorative events are focused on the grandeur of its century-old harbour.

Apart from Shanghai, a dozen cities in East China are claiming to be linked with Zheng He's "treasure boat."

(China Daily 07/09/2005 page2)

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