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Village Opens to Mark Epic Voyages

A festive village was opened at Singapore's Marina Promenade on Thursday night, launching the city state's celebrations of the 600th anniversary of Zheng He's epic voyages.

Aiming to recreate the world of six centuries ago, the village comprises specially designed pavilions showcasing local architecture, cuisine, handicrafts and performances from countries Zheng He visited all those years ago.

More than 100 overseas delegates including 50 performers from China, Indonesia, India, Iran, Kenya and Malaysia have come to Singapore to participate in the 11-day series of events.

Addressing the launch of the festive village, Singapore's Foreign Minister George Yeo pointed out that Zheng He's voyages were largely displays of the "soft" rather than "hard" power of the Ming Dynasty.

"An important reason for the current interest in Zheng He... is the deep desire for peaceful globalization in the world today," Yeo said, adding the anniversary of the voyages should bring people together, not divide them.

He compared the re-emergence of China in the 21st century with the dynastic ascent in the Tang (618-907) and the Ming (1368-1644) dynasties, which brought trade and prosperity across Asia.

A series of activities will be held in Singapore including exhibitions, conferences and a new musical called The Admiral's Odyssey.

In addition, a book "Zheng He and the Treasure Fleet" as well as a special stamp issue and a series of exquisite commemorative coins, will be launched in conjunction with the celebrations.

(China Daily July 5, 2005)

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