An 800-year-old merchant ship was raised from the bottom of the South China Sea, loaded with artefacts that might confirm the existence of an ancient maritime trade route linking China and the West.
The 30-metre wooden vessel, containing thousands of gold, silver and porcelain trading goods, was hoisted onto a barge in a steel cage as high as a three-storey building, a live broadcast by national television showed.
Named the Nanhai No. 1 or South China Sea No. 1 by archaeologists, the ship was discovered in 1987 off the coast of Guangdong province, buried in two metres of silt at a depth of 30 metres.
The Nanhai will be towed to a 150 million yuan ($A23.35 million) museum built to house it in Guangdong, where it will be placed in a tank dubbed the "crystal palace" with the same water temperature and pressure that it experienced on the seabed.