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Six centuries later, China rekindles its Arctic ambitions

Beijing's plan to take Belt and Road north harkens back to Ming dynasty explorer

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A cruise ship is docked at Ny-Aalesund, a research town in the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, Norway.   © Reuters

TOKYO The famed Ming dynasty navigator Zheng He led seven voyages to the western seas. With a total crew of over 20,000, the huge Chinese treasure ships visited ports across the Indian Ocean, the Middle East and Africa.

One theory has it that some of Zheng's fleet passed through the Arctic Ocean in their wooden vessels and discovered Greenland and Iceland (Gavin Menzies' "1421: The Year China Discovered the World").

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