China, Kenya to Search for Ancient Chinese Wrecks

From the Associated Press:

An agreement was signed for a three-year project funded by China’s Commerce Ministry to explore waters near the popular tourist towns ofMalindi and Lamu, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Friday… The sunken ships are believed to have been part of a massive fleet led by Ming dynasty admiral Zheng He that reached Malindi in 1418. Kenyan lore has long told of shipwrecked Chinese sailors settling in the region and marrying local women.

Between 1405 and 1433, — whose name is also spelled Cheng Ho — led armadas with scores of junks and thousands of sailors on voyages to promote trade and recognition of the new dynasty, which had taken power in 1368.

… Zheng’s story has been heavily promoted by China’s government in recent years as evidence of China’s tradition of nonaggression abroad, although historical records show the treasure fleets carried significant firepower and participated in at least three major military actions.

February 26, 2010, 11:56 AM
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