Recent Posts

“The boat claiming the South Seas for China,” Here! Dongguan

The boat claiming the South Seas for China

The 1987 discovery of Nanhai One, and the raising of the vessel and its artifacts in 2007, resulted in a heightened level of sweaty panting by state media in China. In this stage of One Belt, One Road fever, Nanhai One was a significant archaeological discovery along the “Maritime Silk Road,” which linked the South China coastline with the ports of the Indian Ocean basin. The wreck also figures into attempts by Chinese historians and politicians to consolidate PRC claims over large swaths of the South China Sea. (The official name of the wreck translates as “South Sea.”)

Whatever the contemporary political implications of the wreck and its discovery, Nanhai One remains an important link in understanding the role Guangzhou played in the development of long-range trade routes which circulated vast amounts of goods, people and ideas centuries before pundits would coin the term “globalization.”

Originally published in the July, 2017 issue of Here! Dongguan