An international maritime expo opened in Shanghai Friday to mark the 600th anniversary of voyages by ancient Chinese seafaring hero Zheng He who lived in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).
With the theme of "Loving the motherland, good-neighborly relations and scientific seafaring," the expo exhibits seven voyages by Zheng He and the history of China's seafaring in an area of about 20,000 square meters at the Shanghai Exhibition Center. The expo also showcases the achievements China and other countries have made in navigation, ship-building, maritime affairs and construction of harbors.
China's seafaring history dates back 7,000 years to the New Stone Age and reached a peak marked by Zheng He's voyages.
Zheng's fleet, comprising more than 300 ships and manned by about 27,000 sailors, a number unrivaled in the world at that time, visited more than 30 countries and regions in Asia and Africa between 1405 and 1433.
Zheng is believed the first man to blaze a direct sea route linking the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean. His voyage is recorded 87 years earlier than Columbus' discovery of the Americas and 114 years earlier than Magellan's round-the-world voyage.
July 11 marks the 600th anniversary of Zheng He's voyages. The government has planned a series of events to mark the occasion, including the current expo.
(Xinhua News Agency July 9, 2005)