South China Sea imperialism


In his April 14 Forbes Magazine column, former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew seems to justify China’s territorial expansionism in the South China Sea.

“Much more is at stake than rocks and resources. China sees the South China Sea as one of its key interests. A rising China is asserting its position by claiming historical rights to these waters. And the disputes, which arise from claims based on different principles, are unlikely to be resolved,” the Singapore senior leader asserts.

LKY traces China’s claims back to the 15th century, “way before Christopher Columbus landed in the Americas and Vasco da Gama arrived in India. More than six centuries ago Emperor Zhu Di of the Ming Dynasty sent out a large fleet of trading ships to explore and trade with the rest of the world. His choice to command the expedition was Grand Eunuch Zheng He (1371–1433). Zheng He was born and raised a Muslim in what is now Kunming City in Yunnan Province. He was captured by Ming Dynasty forces around 1381 and taken to Nanjing, where he was castrated and subsequently sent to serve in the palace of Zhu Di, who was then the Prince of Yan and would later become Yongle Emperor.”

(In) “nearly three decades (1405–33), Zheng He led seven westward expeditions, which were unprecedented in size and range. They spanned the South China Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf, and reached as far as the east coast of Africa. The ships used for these expeditions–more than 400 feet in length, based on archaeological evidence–were many times the size of those Columbus used to sail across the Atlantic.”


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