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Historic admiral heralded goodwill of China

An Baijie
Updated: Nov 23,2015 10:52 AM     China Daily

“Mirror, Mirror on the wall, what will China bring for the world?”

The question may have been asked by many people witnessing China’s rapid development and active role in international affairs in recent years. Apparently, some countries worry that China’s development might be a threat to its neighbors.

Such anxieties could be sensed during the ASEAN meetings and related forums over the weekend-although China has tried to focus on economic development, political and security issues have inevitably been put forward by ASEAN members.

Premier Li Keqiang tried to ease such anxieties and elaborate on China’s purpose through a trip to a museum in the afternoon of Nov 22 in Malacca. Despite his busy schedule-filled with forums and group and bilateral meetings, he spared half a day and traveled more than 100 km from Kuala Lumpur to visit the Cheng Ho Cultural Museum.

The museum, opened in 2006, was founded to commemorate Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) Admiral Zheng He-also known as Cheng Ho-who visited Malacca at least five times during his seven voyages.

“When he arrived in this land of prosperity, commanding what was then the most powerful fleet in the world, Zheng He engaged in nothing like plundering, expansion or colonization. Instead, he became known for his goodwill and moves of peace, for which people still keep a fond memory,” the Premier said in an article published in five Malaysian newspapers on Nov 20.

Just as the premier said, Zheng He, the admiral and explorer, is remembered by people in Malacca-statues of the admiral can be found in various places and cafes, hotels and other businesses capitalizing on the mystique of the great Chinese explorer and diplomat.

To be frank, the Cheng Ho Cultural Museum itself is neither fantastic nor magnificent-it is housed in eight old shop houses, covers a total floor area of 5,110 square meters and displays some replicas of the explorer’s things, such as sea charts.

However, from the modest museum, visitors could feel Zheng He’s dedication to peace and his readiness to help others. It also demonstrates the Chinese philosophy that peace and good neighborliness always come first.

“Unlike the early Western colonists who brought gunfire and tragedies, what Zheng He brought for the world, including the people of Malacca, is trade, technology, and peace,” a senior Chinese diplomat, who wished to remain anonymous, said while explaining the Premier’s trip to the museum.

History is a mirror, from which we cannot only watch the past, but also see the future.