Deep In the

That's China - - The Garden On The Sea -

The “ocean” has long been a nee­dle in the heart of China evok­ing mem­o­ries too bit­ter to re­call, but at the same time is a cru­cial force at the core that em­pow­ers the rise of the ‘Ori­en­tal Dragon’ on the sea­far­ing stage of mod­ern times. Through­out his­tory sail­ing has been in­stru­men­tal in the de­vel­op­ment of civ­i­liza­tion, af­ford­ing hu­man­ity greater mo­bil­ity than travel over land, whether for trade, trans­port or war­fare, and the ca­pac­ity for fish­ing. China's multi-mast sail­ing junks were car­ry­ing over 200 peo­ple as early as 200 AD and by the me­dieval pe­riod were ex­cep­tion­ally mas­sive. It is be­lieved that an en­gi­neer in an­cient China in­vented the south-point­ing char­iot, a wheeled de­vice em­ploy­ing a dif­fer­en­tial gear that al­lowed a fixed fig­urine to point al­ways in the south­ern car­di­nal direc­tion. It was not un­til around 1300 AD that the pivot-nee­dle dry-box com­pass was in­vented in Europe.There was also the ad­di­tion of the com­pass­card in Europe, which was later adopted by the Chi­nese through con­tact with Ja­panese pi­rates in the 16th cen­tury. China’s Ming Dy­nasty saw a turn­ing point in the ap­ti­tude of coun­tries across the world to uti­lize the sea.The Chi­nese mariners had left their western coun­ter­parts too far be­hind to catch up in ship­build­ing and the ex­plo­ration of the sea be­fore the ‘oceanic apoc­a­lypse’ fell upon Europe. How­ever, the Age of Dis­cov­ery saw Euro­pean ships travel around the world to search for new trad­ing routes and part­ners from "the East Indies" to feed burgeoning cap­i­tal­ism in Europe. In the process, Euro­peans en­coun­tered peo­ples and mapped lands pre­vi­ously un­known to them. Ding­hai is a cred­i­ble wit­ness of how China’s dom­i­nance of the world’s mar­itime genome was lost to the Euro­peans in a hun­gry pur­suit of gold, sil­ver, tea, porce­lain and spices.The mar­itime power of Ding­hai reached its peak in the Song pe­riod, when it played a piv­otal role on the “Silk Road on the sea”. Such an out­stand­ing po­si­tion in the world’s seaborne trade also put Ding­hai at the teeth of the storm in times of war­fare. The Opium War pe­riod saw Ding­hai fall into the talons of the Bri­tish troops twice. At that time, Zhoushan was a well known port of call for western traders while Hong Kong was still only a fish­ing vil­lage dis­missed by the Bri­tish For­eign Sec­re­tary Palmer­ston as "a bar­ren is­land with hardly a house on it". Palmer­ston was fa­mously livid when he learned that Cap­tain Charles El­liot agreed to the ces­sion of Hong Kong while giv­ing up Zhoushan. Dur­ing the clashes, a rainy day in Septem­ber 1841 wit­nessed the heroic death of “the three gar­ri­son com­man­ders” in the de­fense of Xiaofengling and Zhushan­men in Ding­hai.The brave hearts of the three men are still beat­ing in the sub­con­scious of all Ding­hai peo­ple brac­ing up for a new bat­tle on the sea.

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