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Anniversary highlights peaceful growth
By Cao Desheng (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-07-12 05:51

Vice-Premier Huang Ju yesterday used the platform of a conference marking the 600th anniversary of Chinese navigator Zheng He's voyages to reiterate the country's peaceful development.

"China has been working to develop while safeguarding world peace and promoting world peace by developing its economy," Huang said.

The voyages being celebrated contributed a great deal to the world's understanding of navigation as well as promoting economic and cultural exchanges, he said.

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.

Zheng (1371 -1435) is believed to have been the first man to establish a direct sea route between the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean. His voyages predated Christopher Columbus' discovery of America by 87 years and were 114 years before Ferdinand de Magellan's round-the-world voyage.

According to Vice-Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui, the voyages promoted the peaceful co-existence of various civilizations, demonstrating China's cultural tradition of friendship in international relations.

Yesterday marked the 600th anniversary of Zheng's first voyage and from this year the day will become China's Navigation Day.

A series of events have been organized in honour of the navigator, who is considered an ambassador of peace, trade and Asian solidarity and co-operation.
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