Member of the European Parliament Jan Zahradil attends the opening ceremony of a photo exhibition of Zheng He, a great navigator in ancient China, at the headquarters of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, Jan. 15, 2019. (Xinhua/Ye Pingfan)
STRASBOURG, France, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) -- The claim that China is becoming a colonial power is absolute nonsense, a senior member of the European Parliament (MEP) told Xinhua Tuesday, citing the seven voyages of Zheng He, a great navigator in ancient China.
Nirj Deva, chairman of the EU-China Friendship Group in the European Parliament, made the remark on the margins of the photo exhibition of Zheng He at the headquarters of the European Parliament here.
"Whenever people in the West now say, 'oh, China is a colonial power, is going to take over people's land', I say it's absolute nonsense, they could have done that 100 times over in the past from 500 BC to 1760, but it did nothing of the kind," Deva said.
"Admiral Zheng He with his grand fleet of over 300 Chinese ships having circumnavigated the globe in four directions colonized no one and conquered none," he added.
Dispatched by emperors of the Ming Dynasty, Zheng's fleets visited more than thirty counties and regions in Asia and Africa from 1405 to 1433, several decades before Christopher Columbus set foot on America.
According to historical records of the Ming Dynasty, during Zheng's first excursion, there were 27,800 officers and soldiers in his fleet made up of 62 ships.
As the host of the exhibition, Deva told Xinhua he intended to tell Europeans that China had no colonial ambition even at the time when it had the most powerful fleets in the world.
In addition, Deva dismissed Western countries' smear of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.
"Recently it has become fashionable in Washington to cry wolf and ring alarm bells about Chinas colonial ambitions. Frankly, I laugh at this, because of China's record. If anyone in Washington cared to study Chinese history, (they) would say otherwise -- This exhibition says it all," he said.
"Chinese culture is different. China is not an aggressive colonial power, but aggressive colonial powers cannot think beyond themselves, and they think that everybody is an aggressive colonial power," he stressed.
The photo exhibition, telling a full story of Zheng He's seven voyages, enchanted a number of MEPs and diplomats in Strasbourg, many of whom gathered here this week for the legislature's plenary session.
"I think it's a really important exhibition to show to Europeans that China had a really advanced navy, they had really strong skills in being able to be seafarers with the technology that they created at the time, and also to show people the history of China, too, " said Steven Woolfe, an MEP for the North West of England.
Co-hosted by China Maritime Museum and China Art Photography Society, the exhibition will stay open to the public till Friday.