China was behind a Bamboo Curtain until the era of Deng Xiaoping in the early ’80s. China has rapidly embraced limited capitalism and world trade. There is a huge coastline and many major ports. The magnetic compass was invented in China.
In the early 1400′s, the treasure fleets of the Ming Dynasty had ships over 100 metres in length. One voyage returned with a giraffe from East Africa. In comparison, Columbus went off to find China in 1492 and his largest ship was a mere 19 metres.
There is no effective sail training organisation in China, because only very few in China know such organisations exist in other nations of the world. The Official Tall Ships’ events have yet to go near a Chinese port. But the nurturing of the youth of the nation is paramount in Chinese culture, especially now with smaller families. Furthermore, the current undergraduates of China, many of whom are studying outside China, will eventually take up important positions in multinational companies and organisations. A Chinese young adult will obtain a greater insight into the cultures of other nations through sail training, by having to make ship mates and visiting “foreign” ports. A voyage on a Tall Ship will stand out on their CV.
The government of China supports participation in all major sporting events in the world, including cricket. There are Chinese yacht sailors, but sail training is not about making world class yachtspeople. Over and above the advantages of sail training as a method of character building, the presence of Chinese nationals in the sail training community will greatly advance international understanding in the future. The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow. A junior leadership position (bosun’s mate, cook’s mate or watch leader) on a sail training ship gives a real life opportunity for a young person to learn important person management skills which cannot be found in an office environment.