China's State Council, or the cabinet, has decided to set July 11 as the country's Maritime Day beginning this year, said Minister of Communications Zhang Chunxian on Tuesday.
July 11 marks the 600th anniversary of the ocean voyages by Zheng He, a great Ming Dynasty navigator, who, researchers said, led Chinese fleet on seven ocean voyages to as far as America 600 years ago.
According to the minister, creating a maritime day will help enhance the Chinese people's awareness of navigation and the sea, and promote the development of navigation and business at the sea.
July 11 will also become "the World Maritime Day in China," he said, adding this is a move of China to honor its commitment to the International Maritime Organization, to which China is a member.
Maritime Day will be a national celebration that needs the participation of all citizens, said Vice Minister of Communications Xu Zuyuan. The theme of this year's Maritime Day is "Love the motherland, be good friends with neighboring countries and navigate scientifically."
China now has 210,000 ships of more than 86 million dead weighttons, ranking the fourth in the world. Some 90 percent of China's foreign trade is done by its ocean-going fleets.