Sunday, 28 September 2014

Did the Chinese or Marco Polo discover America First?

Lessons for Asian Regional Security Today.
Did the Chinese discover America (2640BC - 2200BC) or did Marco Polo (1271AD - 1295AD)?  
The Debate Continues. Marco Polo used Chinese Maritime Maps from the Yuan Dynasty dating back to the 13th Century. Original Chinese Maps were much earlier. A world map published during the Chinese Ming Dynasty in 1418 also suggests that the famous Chinese Admiral Zheng He (a Muslim) and his mariners had not only sailed in the Indian Ocean but had also circumnavigated the earth.

A comparison of the 1418 map with the slightly later “Shanhai Yudi Quantu” (“Map of Mountains and Seas”) map (c.1430) shows that the Ming navy had, in the meantime, established the peninsular nature of California, improved the west coast outline of South America, and added key east coast features such as Labrador, Florida, and the Gulf of Mexico. The similarities (including errors) that the secret European maps shared with the Ming maps suggest that the maps used by European explorers like Magellan, Columbus and Vasco da Gama, were partly derived from the Chinese. Portuguese spies such as Niccolo da Conti (c. 1425) and Pero de Covilha (in 1487-1493) and Marco Polo had probably managed to obtain copies of the Ming maps.

The Chinese Classic "Shan Hai Jing" or “Mountains and Sea Classis”, written 2200 BC, reported expeditions to the ends of the earth including "Fu Sang" or “Prosperity Mountains”, refers to a beautiful land to the east of China. Evidence has been found of wrecked Chinese junks in Florida, South Carolina, New York and Canada. An archaeological site in Nova Scotia at Cape Dauphin found by Canadian architect Paul Chiasson also indicated an early Chinese settlement. Numerous evidence exists of Chinese visits to America pre-Columbus.

Implications for Asian Regional Security – Learning from History
Chinese are not colonisers.  And Native Americans DNA are not from East Asia. according to a newly sequenced genome, one-third of Native American genes come from west Eurasian people linked to the Middle East and Europe instead of East Asia ie China.

Clearly, the Chinese came to America as far back as the 2200BC, and again in circa 1491AD. They came, they traded, they did not conquer and they left.

Despite being a Maritime Power from the 13th Century, China has never colonised any territories overseas unlike Britain, US and other European countries. Britiain projected her maritime powers to India towards East and South East Asia to build a British Empire that lasted more than 500 years from 1496-1997. The Dutch, German, Portuguese and Spanish also followed.

Japanese colonization adventures (1938-1945) under its “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere” ideology of brutality, ethnic cleansing, rape and torture began in China and triggered the Pacific War in WW2 to attract its eventual near destruction by atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Japanese unprovoked attacks on Pearl Harbour on 7 December 1941 continued to be remembered by Americans and especially by friends, loved ones and descendants of the 1,177 sailors entombed inside the battleship USS Arizona now serving as a Memorial to that eternal “Day of Infamy” as proclaimed by then US President Roosevelt.  A total of 2,008 Amercian sailors were killed with 710 others injured on that “Day of Infamy”.    

Indeed, China could have colonised South East Asia in the early 15th century or much, much earlier. She had the manpower resource with enormous ships equipped with great firepowers, which are many times bigger and more powerful bigger than any European ships at that time. But China did not.  The notions to project power around the world, and the desire if necessary by force have been fundamentally European and American.  It has never been a Chinese characteristic.

Herein lies the fundamental truth for a better understanding of the Chinese with regard to overseas expansion and colonization.

The Chinese has no desire to impose their diverse way of life on others. China itself is not homogeneous and is in fact heterogeneous with well over 53 tribal groups with their own dialects, diet preferences and cultural traditions, even though the biggest Han Tribe is more than 93%.

The Chinese have a strong sense of their superiority rooted in history. The idea of “Under Heaven, Only China” resonates throughout the Chinese personality and self-image. Even the ancient Chinese Emperor is called the “Son of Heaven (God)”. They have long had a hierarchical view of the world, with China at the top.

If the Chinese had colonized America from 2200BC, what would America be liked today? They would have co-existed with Native Americans instead of killing most of them and drive them from their legacy ancestral lands. Later European arrivals would have simply settled down at their choice townships and co-existed. African labour would have been imported to work on the lucrative cotton plantations but not as slave labour but as cheap foreign labour. Other cheap foreign labour like the Irish, Italian, Polish and Australians could also be recruited. Politically, America as a Chinese colony would be united under a Federation of “many systems, one China”. In the event, Chinese America would have none of the racial and class divides amidst fractious struggles among power elites that we currently witness.  A political fantasy, no less. Because the Chinese never has, and never will have, expansionist ambitions. Even today in Asia.  

The Chinese and Diaoyu Islands
Like many Japanese who revised history by denying neither Pearl Harbour nor the Nanjing Massacre actually happened, many "experts" chose not to attribute Diaoyu ownership to China. It was on Chinese Maritime Charts in early 13th century; but conspicuously absent on both the 1783 Japanese Maritime Charts and 1876 Official Imperial Japan Map. Japan occupied Diaoyu in 1895 after the 1st Sino-Japanese War, making it part of Okinawa. In 1900, Japan renamed it to Senkaku. In 1951, US appointed Japan to help administer Diaoyu; and in 1971, the US made Japan the Official Administrator of Diaoyu. This would not be necessary if Diaoyu actually belonged to Japan.

Japan has no role in regional security and the world until and unless it renders a full unreserved apology over its wartime atrocities (including the Pearl Harbour attacks), and confirms its remorse by returning Diaoyu to China. In embracing Japan as its key ally for Asian Regional Security, America has so quickly forgotten Japanese infamy and atrocities committed at Pearl Habour in 1941 and elsewhere, and for which they demonstrate neither contrite nor remorse and has never apologised for.  The memories and spirits of 1,177 sailors of the USS Arizona and nearly 800 other Americans murdered by Japanese undeclared war on America demands such an apology.   

The resolution of Diaoyu island is key to regional security in ASEAN and the Western Pacific. US credibility is at critical stake unless the America returns Diaoyu to its rightful owner, China. The US should accept that China is not an expansionist power and honour its own terms for Japanese WW2 surrender regarding the return of all non-Japanese territories seized and occupied by Japan. It is difficult to foresee any credible role for the US in Asia Pacific, or the whole world, unless her impugned integrity and shameless injustice over Diaoyu is reversed.

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