Carpio fact-checks Xi: Chinese explorer never visited PH


MANILA – Contrary to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s claim, 14th century Chinese navigator, diplomat and admiral Zheng He “never visited the Philippines.”

Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio said this Wednesday, refuting an opinion article that the Chinese Embassy in Manila released ahead of the Chinese President’s 2-day state visit to Manila.

Xi had said Zheng, a legendary Chinese explorer, made “multiple visits” to the Manila Bay, Visayas and Sulu to seek friendship and cooperation.

During the Ming dynasty, Zheng led 7 expeditions to Southeast Asia, South Asia, Western Asia and East Africa.

In an email to ABS-CBN News, Carpio, a staunch defender of Philippine rights over its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the disputed South China Sea, cited a portion of his 2017 e-book “The South China Sea Dispute: Philippine Sovereign Rights and Jurisdiction in the West Philippine Sea,” where he corrected the misconception.

“Zheng He never visited the Philippines. The accounts saying that he did were certainly unfounded, as pointed out by Prof. Hsu Yun-Ts’iao,” he said.

“When Prof. Chiao-min Hsieh of the Catholic University of America wrote that Zheng He supposedly visited the Philippines, he thought that Chan Cheng, which appeared in accounts written by members of Zheng He’s expedition, was an old Chinese name for the Philippines. However, the word Chan Cheng was actually the Ming Dynasty name for a Malay state in Indo-China,” he explained.

Carpio is in the running to be the next chief justice of the Supreme Court but has remained vocal about his advocacy for the country’s sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea, the country’s EEZ in the South China Sea.

China claims nearly all of the disputed waters, conflicting with partial claims of the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.