Image via SF Chronicle
A replica 16th century junk (Chinese sailing vessel) sank off Taiwan Sunday after a collision involving a Liberian freighter. The junk was the Princess TaiPing, a 35-tonne replica of a Ming dynasty warship, that was on the the final day of a record breaking 10 month, trans-pacific voyage to demonstrate that the Chinese admiral and explorer, Zheng He, had sailed to North America some 600 years ago. According the Princess Taiping’s website:
Our mission is to restore the craftsmanship and navigation techniques of ancient Chinese people, to honor the richness of Chinese maritime culture, and to applaud the glorious pieces in Chinese history. Nowadays, we can hardly find any ocean-going Chinese Junk. If these maritime culture relics can not be well preserved, we can boldly declare that they can be vanished within one decade. The foremost efforts of Princess TaiPing are to revive the Chinese traditional shipbuilding and sea navigation techniques and show the charm of Chinese Junk to the world as well.
Did the Chinese find America first？ It is a rather controversial topic. However, the evidence that tens of Chinese traditional anchors were found in the bottom of the west coastline of USA, can probably prove that ancient Chinese left the anchors in America by ships earlier than 600 years ago. On the other hand, the Princess TaiPing Expedition used the method of scientific attestation can also prove that Chinese Junks have the ability to cross the Pacific Ocean and back.
The Princess TaiPing began its voyage from Taiwan’s northern Pisha port in June 2008, sailing along a northern route to Japan and reaching San Francisco five months later after surviving several storms. The junk was within 40 kilometres from its final destination in Taiwan when it collided with the 43,200-dwt chemical tanker Champion Express. All eleven crew members on board were rescued.