From Asia Times:
On Saturday, Chinese President Hu Jintao’s whirlwind visit to eight African countries in 12 days will come to an end, marking a bold new foray into the “Dark Continent”.
Six centuries ago, another Chinese dignitary touched on the shores of Africa; he returned to Beijing with a giraffe, an exotic gift no doubt, but so underwhelmed were the occupants of the Forbidden Palace about such returns on their massive investment that Admiral Zheng He‘s Treasure Fleet, loudly hailed when it set sail, was grounded by the Ming emperor, and no more global expeditions were again sanctioned by the imperial court.
A fine eunuch Admiral Zheng may have been, and a pious Muslim, too, as far as one can tell, but he was still only an emissary; whereas Hu is nothing short of the emperor himself.[Full Text]