July this year marks the 600th anniversary of ocean voyages by Zheng He, a great navigator of China's Ming Dynasty. People from all walks of life are celebrating this event in different means.
Students at the prestigious Peking University are among them.
Li Guofu is a student majoring in environmental protection, and is also an enthusiast of history and diplomacy.
"It's a very good idea to tell us these stories. From these, we can get to know what we can do as students to carry forward Zheng He's spirit as an envoy for friendship with foreign countries. Moreover, the activities also awake our awareness to protect our oceans and relevant rights and interests," said Li.
Using illustrations and comments, the time-line and routes of his 7 voyages are shown on the boards. The giant fleet under his command had a staff of more than 20,000 men. Decades earlier than his western counterparts, Zheng He had sailed on the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean, further south to Java in today's Indonesia, then northwest to Iran and the Holy City of Mecca and further west to today's Somalia in East Africa.
During his visits to more than 30 countries, he brought with him the desire of Chinese emperors to build up friendly contacts by presenting valuable gifts and inviting the rulers to send emissaries to China.
However, this honorable history didn't bring future prosperity to China, for China closed her door on the ocean for centuries. Industrial innovation halted at the same time.
As China continues to revitalize itself starting from the 1980s, the Chinese people found that their contemporary foreign policy is echoed by Zheng He and his emperor's diplomatic spirit 600 years ago. Through friendship and cooperation with other countries, common prosperity can be enjoyed by all.
Zheng Ming is an expert conducting studies on Zheng He's Voyages to the Indian Ocean. He said through commemorating Zheng He's voyage, China wishes to display its desire for a peaceful revitalization and common prosperity throughout the world.
"China was never a menace to other countries, even when it was a giant power in history. Now as the nation is revitalizing, and will carry forward Zheng He's tradition of building up friendly contacts with other nations by celebrating the anniversary of his debut voyage," said Zheng.
Beginning this year, China has set July 11th as the country's Maritime Day, the date Zheng He set out from the coastal Taicang Port. A series of activities will be held to promote ancient China's maritime culture and the current problems China faces with its vast oceans.
(CRI.com June 2, 2005)