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"Exploration of Zheng He's Voyage" Concluded with Satisfaction

The 5-month-long "Exploration of Zheng He's Voyage" undertaken by reporters of China News was successfully rewound on the day of the 600th anniversary of Zheng He's spectacular voyage into the Pacific and Indian Oceans during China's Ming dynasty. A closing ceremony was held today in "He Jian Technology" (the name taken from Zheng He's fleet), the sponsor of the exploration, and was attended by officials of Suzhou Municipality, SIP, and Taicang City, as well as leaders of China News Agency.

Reporter Han Shengbao and photographer Jiang Zhenjiang from China News, who did the actual exploration, started out from Taicang, Jiangsu Province, the starting point of Zheng He's voyage, and traveled dozens of thousands of kilometers by following the original route of the ancient voyage, looking for historical remains of the voyage and recording local customs along the way, and supplied over 100 articles of reportage with 140 photos to overseas journals and network media, which caused great repercussions in China and abroad.

During the exploration, the reporters traveled to Southeast Asia, where more historical relics were found, and visited Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore. They made surveys in Taicang, where all of Zheng He’s six voyages started, Nanjing, where Zheng's ships were built, and Zhangzhou of Fijian Province and Dezhou of Shandong Province, with which Zheng He had connections. Altogether they studied over 50 spots of historical remains about the voyages in addition to meeting over 80 scholars and researchers on Zheng He both in China and overseas. Also interviewed were hundreds of overseas Chinese and officials and civilians in the various voyage-related foreign locations.

Zheng He, a Moslem, eunuch, and great and sophisticated historical figure, led a large fleet on six voyages at imperial decrees with the main purpose of developing diplomatic and trade relations with then-unknown foreign countries, but due to scanty record in the annals of the Ming dynasty and loss of historical archives, there have remained many mysteries and controversial issues to the scholars and experts on Zheng He. The reporter made it an important focus to search for unknown sites and anecdotes about Zheng He overseas, and in some way provided evidence and clues in words and pictures to resolve the mysteries from the aspects of politics, military, trade, culture, science, diplomacy, and religion.

Among comprehensive reports on the overseas places and topics of interesting discoveries are: the "Dragon Teeth Gate" in Singapore, the "Royal Garrison Road" in Borneo, the Borneo Sultan II who had been missing for 600 years, Chinese architectural culture in Thailand, the influence of Chinese tea-drinking custom in the Southeast Asia, the "site of friendship" on Bali Island, Indonesia, Semarang of central Java, Malacca Straights, and the story of a Kenyan girl from "China Village" on the eastern African continent tracing her ancestral root in Taicang, etc., which aroused keen attention in the overseas media. Various memorial activities in different foreign locations to mark the 600th anniversary of the voyages were also carried in the reports.

July 11, 2005

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