JINAN, July 22 (Xinhua) -- China officially initiated a program to survey a Chinese battleship sunk in the Yellow Sea by the invading Japanese fleet in 1894, on Liugong Island, Shandong Province on Saturday.
The program is jointly carried out by the China National Cultural Heritage Administration Underwater Cultural Heritage Conservation Center, the Shandong Underwater Archaeological Research Center, the Sino-Japanese War Museum and Weihai Museum.
Zhou Chunshui, head of the joint survey program, said they have invited underwater archaeological teams from Beijing, Shandong, Liaoning, Fujian, Hainan, Guangdong and Hubei provinces for the underwater survey.
The war, which started in 1894, is commonly known in China as the Jiawu War. On July 25, 1894, the Japanese fleet attacked two Chinese vessels off the Korean port of Asan. At the time, Korea was a tributary of the Qing Empire (1644-1911). By March 1895, the Chinese land army and navy were routed, which was the first time that China had been defeated by Japan in a military conflict.
Zhou said China launched an underwater heritage survey in the Weihai bay in 2017. In 2018, a shipwreck site was discovered, a number of shipwrecked relics, including steel plates, wooden boat plates, coal blocks and musket rounds were found. Archaeologists believe it to be the wreck of the Dingyuan Battleship, the flagship vessel of the Beiyang Fleet of the Qing Dynasty, which bought the ship from Germany.
Zhou said this year, the underwater archaeological program will take 60 days to carry out surveying, mapping, imaging and documenting the exposed sunken ship hull.
The work is expected to continue to the year 2020, when the archaeologists hope they would be able to determine the nature and preservation status of the shipwreck.
The program will provide precious artefacts for the research of the history of the First Sino-Japanese War and the history of naval vessels the world over, he said.
This year marks the 125th anniversary of the outbreak of the Jiawu War. In recent years, Chinese archaeologists have discovered two other sunken ships -- Jingyuan and Zhiyuan of the Beiyang Fleet.
It was on Liugong Island that the Beiyang Fleet was set up in 1888. The Jiawu War Museum opened on the island in 1985, with visitors since flooding in. The island has been developed into a patriotic educational base as the war is regarded as "a bitter lesson to learn" in Chinese history.