One documentary I watched while writing Chinese Power in Indian Ocean (2/2) was based on Gavin Menzies’ best selling book 1421: The Year China Discovered America. The thesis of the book was that Zheng He’s fleet had reached America in 1421. But in the documentary, they put Gavin Menzies on camera and contradicted most of his assumptions. Mr. Menzies agreed with the producers that most of his evidence is flimsy, but he still stood by his theory.
To prove that Zheng He’s fleet could have reached America, a replica of the Ming Dynasty ship was built and it set sail to America from Xiamen. The ship made of wood held together with nails docked in San Francisco in October 2008 after a 69 day journey.
But tragedy struck while returning back to Taiwan.
After surviving several storms during its 10-month voyage, the junk broke in two and sank after it was rammed by a freighter just off Taiwan’s coast.
All 11 crew members were rescued after being found adrift on the wreckage.
“We have worked so hard for so many years, but we failed at the last minute, I’m really ashamed,” said Taiwanese captain Liu Ningsheng after being rescued by the coast guard. [BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Ming Dynasty replica junk sinks]