Chinese Junk Preservation Group Continues Efforts to Rescue Historic Vessel from Extinction

By Dione Chen

Efforts continue to save the Free China, a historic Chinese junk that was slated for destruction on Dec. 31, 2008, but begins 2009 with a tenuous extension of life.

The authentic junk is possibly the oldest Chinese wooden sailing vessel of operable condition in existence, and the last of its kind. However, the current owner—a boatyard owner in the Sacramento delta—has said that he would destroy the junk unless a new home was found by year end.

Chinese Junk Preservation is a small group of volunteers comprised of maritime experts, historians, members of the Chinese American community and friends and family of the crew that sailed the junk across the Pacific Ocean in 1955. The group hopes to beat the odds by finding a home for the junk in which it will have a public life contributing to awareness and interest in maritime, Chinese and American culture and history and immigration.

With the Dec. 31 deadline for destruction fast-approaching, the group negotiated a 3-month extension for continued temporary storage of the junk. This extension—granted at a cost to the preservation group, which has raised only minimal funds—is only a temporary lease on life, and so the group continues efforts to raise awareness and funds to save the junk.


The Free China about to pass under the Golden Gate Bridge

Schematic of the Free China.(Photo courtesy of Chinese Junk Preservation).


Encouraged by interest in a recent MUA article as well as a December '09 Associated Press article that was picked up by over 200 media (tv, radio, online and print newspapers) worldwide, the group hopes that the extension will "buy time" to find a new interim home for the remainder of the year, and, importantly, secure a long-term home and preservation plan.

Rather than abandon its efforts, the group has developed a pragmatic 1-year strategy to save the junk. The group needs to raise an estimated $50,000 within the next two months—no easy task, especially in this economy.

These funds would be used to undertake only the most essential steps to saving the junk:

Chinese Junk Preservation seeks assistance in the following areas:


About Author: Dione Chen established Chinese Junk Preservation and is spearheading efforts to preserve the Free China vessel and the story of its transpacific voyage. She is the daughter of the late Reno Chen, who was one of the Free China crew.

View the previous post on the Free China.

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Recent Press on the Free China:

December 2008 – "Historic Chinese boat may be junked" (Associated Press article was published in more than 200 print and online publications internationally)

December 2008 – "Chinese Junk Loses Norcal Home; May be Destroyed" (CBS 5)

December 2008 – "Historic Boat in Jeopardy" (NewsTalk 1530 KFBK)



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