The replica of a Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) wooden junk set sail from Guangzhou yesterday, part of celebrations to mark the 600th anniversary of the original journey.
"This is a celebration not only of the achievements of Zheng He's voyages across the Indian Ocean but also of China's maritime history and marine economy," said Xu Guanchao, director of the organizing committee.
The original 31-meter-long Lü Meimao ('Green Eyebrow') was part of the fleet commanded by Zheng He -- the navigator and diplomat who set sail in 1405.
In the next three decades, Zheng led his fleet to 30 countries in Asia and Africa on seven voyages, helping extend China's maritime and commercial influence overseas.
The replica began its journey in Qingdao in east China's Shandong Province on March 24, and arrived at Quangzhou on April 14. It got to Guangzhou, its eighth stop of eleven Chinese cities, on May 14.
It will now head for Hong Kong, Macao and Sanya in Hainan Province before continuing to 17 countries in Asia and Africa in July.
The whole journey will last five months and is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
Sources from the organizing committee said nationwide nautical knowledge contests and academic exchanges would be held after the junk's voyage.
(China Daily, China.org.cn May 27, 2005)