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By CCTV correspondent Rian Maelzer
The exploits of the Chinese Admiral Zheng He, or Cheng Ho as he’s also known, have become well known far beyond China’s shores, no more so than in the historic city of Melaka in Malaysia. The admiral is believed to have stopped there several times on his voyages which took him as far as East Africa. And as CCTV correspondent Rian Maelzer reports, the Chinese admiral has become something of an adopted son in the UNESCO heritage city.
It’s the first sight that welcomes visitors to the historic core of Melaka -- a replica of a treasure ship of Admiral Zheng He or Cheng Ho. You’ll also find statues of the admiral here as well as cafes, hotels and other businesses capitalizing on the mystique of the great Chinese explorer and diplomat.
|Melaka’s Cheng Ho Cultural Museum|
Enthusiasts for Zheng He don’t come any more keen than Tan Ta Sen -- founder of a Melaka’s Cheng Ho Cultural Museum and president of the International Zheng He society.
“The society we set up just to collect all the Cheng Ho enthusiasts who are interested to study Cheng Ho’s history, his contribution, his legacy. And we have this as the practical project to bring all artifacts or relics of Cheng Ho to the people.” said Tan Ta Sen, President, International Zheng He Society
Tan believes Ming dynasty artifacts found in this well are evidence that the building housing the museum was once part of Zheng He’s warehouse complex here.
“Zheng He first came to Melaka in 1405. Chinese records say his fleet comprised around 260 ships and almost 28-thousand men. He’s believed to have visited Melaka at least four more times during his life.” said Rian Maelzer, Melaka, Malaysia.
“This is a replica of Cheng Ho’s navigation map. Here he marked the word, Melaka’ in Chinese.”
“He was able to bring peace and stability to the whole region, especially offering protection from the Siamese invaders and also pirates in the Straits of Melaka. He was able to subdue the pirates and gave Melaka a century of peace and stability.” said Kok Kee Boon, Cultural Promoter.
That helped transform Melaka into a major international port.
“Peace, diplomatic and trade relations with foreign rulers.”
Those who’ve studied the admiral believe Zheng He was much more than an explorer, but also a powerful force for international diplomacy, trade and collaboration.