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Maritime Silk Road (MSR)

During the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD), Emperor Wudi exerted himself to the utmost in developing marine transportation and friendly relations with foreign countries. With the relentless efforts from the Imperial Court, three important sea routes were opened: The first one was a coastal route, from today's Dandong of Northeast China's Liaoning Province to the Bailunhe River bayou in the South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region; the second was from coastal Shangdong in East China to South Korea and Japan via the Yellow Sea; and the third one was the marine Silk Road, referring to the Xuwen (South China's Guangdong Province) and Hefu (East China's Zhejiang Province) routes.

Emperor Wudi twice sent Zhang Qian (? - 114 B.C), a great Silk Road traveler, to areas west of Yumenguan (including present-day West China's - Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and parts of Central Asia), opening up a trade channel - the Silk Road -- between China and Western countries.

Chinese silk has been world-famous since ancient times. Ancient Greeks called the silk ser, which was similar to the pronunciation of the Chinese character for silk. Seres (silk maker) was therefore referred to as China -- the birthplace of silk.

Following the opening-up of the Silk Road, Chinese silk was sold to the Roman Empire through the Anxi (possessing today's Iran Plateau and the Tigris & Euphrates River valleys). The Romans, therefore, sought to find a marine route to China.

The Han sailboats succeeded in opening up a route to the indian Ocean through the South Sea, marking the first oceanic route as well as the earliest marine trading route in the world.

Han Shu Record (also known as The History of the Han Dynasty) kept the first complete vivid record on China's boats sailing into the indian ocean from the South Sea via the Malacca Strait in Southeast Asian waters. Han ships would leave from Xuwen in South China's Guangdong Province, or Hepu in South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, and via the South Sea, would arrive in india and Sri Lanka-- a transfer station, where pearls, colored glazes, and other exotic things could be bought. Chinese silk was transported to Rome hereafter. Such was the marine Silk Road.

in his book Nature History, Gaius Plinius Secundus, a knowledgeable scientist in ancient Rome, recorded, "four sailors from (today's Sri Lanka) left for Rome (during the Caesar Era). According to one of the sailors named Rutgers, both Rome and Sri Lanka had direct trade relations with China."

in 166 of the Han Dynasty, the Roman Emperor sent envoys to China, presenting various such gifts as ivory and hawksbill turtles to the Imperialroyal Court, which marked the earliest friendly relations between China and European countries. A direct route from the East to the West was therefore opened up.

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