China's vast 18-thousand-kilometer coastline nurtures the land, the people and their commerce. As far back as 27-hundred years ago, people were sailing the first maritime route between Shandong and the Korean peninsula.
The so-called "Maritime Silk Road' emerged because of the extremely mountainous Southeastern coast of China. Merchants seeking an easier route to transport their goods took to the seas.
"The Maritime Silk Road" soon became the main passageway for maritime commerce between China and the rest of the world. Based in the Southern Sea, the "Road" begins in Quanzhou in Fujian and Xuwen in Guangdong province. The island Nan'ao, acted as a hub of the east asian sea trade, lying between Fujian, Guangdong and Taiwan.
A Greek style silver vessel and roof beam found in southern Guangdong bear witness to the emergence of the "Maritime Silk Road" some two thousand years ago. Not only was there an exchange of goods as people traded silk for other merchandise from the West, there was also an exchange of labor, as Greek craftsmen were brought to China to help build the imperial palaces of the south.
So prosperous was the "Maritime Silk Road" during the Song, Yuan and Ming dynasties, that it replaced the western "Silk Road" inland. During this time, goods made in China were shipped to more than 50 countries worldwide. The famed Ming-dynasty navigator Zheng He visited more than 30 countries, including East Asia, the Middle East, even travelling as far as Somalia and Kenya.
In the 2000-year history of the "Maritime Silk Road," Guangzhou proved the most enduring port on the ancient route. Remnants of the "Maritime Silk Road" can still be found in more than 20 sites around the city of Guangzhou today.