Engage with China is delighted to announce the appointment of its newest Ambassador, Christian Havrehed, adventurer, ocean-rower, inspirational speaker and founder of Yantu.com. A graduate in Chinese Studies from the University of Durham and always interested in the sea, Christian was deemed “crazy enough” to enter the newly inaugurated Ward-Evans Atlantic Rowing Challenge in 2001. His rowing partner was Chinese athlete, Sun Haibin, in what was considered a collaborative joint venture of mental and physical endurance. The journey from Tenerife to Barbados took the pair 56 days to accomplish. Both athletes became the first Dane and Chinese, respectively, to row an ocean, and Sun was even nominated Sportsman of the Year in China.
Former consultant at KPMG based in Hong Kong and then Shanghai, Christian has been interested in Chinese history for decades. His adventures aim to validate his research thesis that the Chinese, like the Vikings, reached America before Christopher Columbus. “I believe that history can be brought alive through the medium of adventure,” says Christian. It would seem that his own personal history also drives his interest in China and the oceans. Both his grandfather and great, great, great, great grandfather, were sea-farers who ended up working in China and Macau, the latter even learning mandarin which was illegal at the time.
Christian’s research since 2001, revolves around the 219BC voyage by sorcerer Xu Fu, who, according to Chinese history, was sent by the First Emperor, Qin Shihuang, – (of Terracotta Warriors fame) – to bring back the elixir of immortality kept by the Gods in the Eastern Seas. Xu Fu made two voyages but never returned from the second. No one knows where Xu Fu and his entourage settled, but there are temples dedicated to him, including along the east and west coasts of Japan. Christian, along with academics like the late Joseph Needham, believes that Xu Fu may have used the Kuroshio current to make it across the Pacific Ocean to America and settled there to escape certain death from the Emperor for deceiving him and failing to produce the elixir.
From his education during 6th form at Atlantic College in Cardiff, part of the United World College network, Christian believes that life must include an element of “giving back.” His adventures aim to raise money for UWC & other educational causes.
Engage with China, an educational charity dedicated to building China literacy in UK schools, is delighted to be a Campaign Partner for Christian’s Yantu 沿途 project. Yantu in Chinese means “along the way.” We will be supporting his adventures on land and water and agree with his slogan that, “合作可以更多!” In these COVID times it is more important than ever to find ways for international cooperation and understanding – even if these are conducted upon the high seas!
The next rowing adventure is coming soon… watch this space! Meantime, do read more about him http://www.engagewithchina.org/trustees/