6.30pm Drinks Reception 7.30 pm 10.30 pm Illustrated Lecture and Banquet Dinner On 15 March 2002, a sensation occurred in the lecture theatre of the Royal Geographical Society in London as Gavin Menzies rose to present the results of fifteen years of research: the Chinese had discovered most of the world by 1421, well before any of the famous European xplorers. The lecture was broadcast to a television audience of almost a billion people and made the front pages of newspapers worldwide, from the New York Times to the SCMP. Ever since, hundreds of scientists and historians have joined the controversial debate. The Royal Geographical Society Hong Kong is privileged to host the first public presentation of Mr. Menzies' theories on Chinese soil. Gavin Menzies's extraordinary story of Chinese exploration begins in 1421, when four huge fleets set sail from near the country's new capital, Beijing. The ships, 450 foot long junks made from the finest teak, were led by the Emperor's loyal eunuch admirals, first among whom was "the admiral of the Western Sea", Zheng He. Their mission was to discover and unite the whole world in the benefits of confucian harmony and bring the world into the Chinese trade system. Their journeys would last over two years and circle the entire globe. Gavin Menzies has rewritten history with his extraordinary findings about these voyages. He argues that the Chinese were the first to discover America, 70 years before Columbus and that they reached Australia 350 years before Cook. He believes that they discovered Antarctica and the South Shetland Isles and that the fleets of Admiral Zheng He sailed through the Magellan Straights 60 years before Magellan was born. In addition, Mr. Menzies has evidence that they charted both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of South America, bringing back artifacts and animals for the Emperor's collection and established trade routes with Africa and India. Further, he hypothesises that the Chinese understood he concept of longitude before the Europeans and effectively had the world charted by 1428. Most controversially of all, he suggests that the European explorers including Columbus and Da Gama set sail in their time armed with maps that drew on the Chinese explorations and maps. Gavin Menzies spent his early years in China and joined the Royal Navy in 1953. As a junior officer, he sailed the world along the routes of Columbus, Dias, Cabral and Vasco da Gama. As commander of HMS Rorqual, he sailed the routes pioneered by Magellan and Captain Cook. Since leaving the Royal Navy, he has done 15 years of research on his theories, visiting 120 countries, over 900 museums and libraries and every major seaport of the Middle Ages. A new edition of his book, 1421: The Year China Discovered the World, is to be published shortly and 47 television companies worldwide are bidding for the rights to do a series on 1421 in 2004. In this dinner lecture, Gavin Menzies shares the remarkable trail of his discovery and the evidence to support it, including ancient maps, precise navigational knowledge, astronomy, ancient Chinese accounts, landing stones left by the Emperor's fleet and artifacts left along their route.