Zheng He Expeditions

Elizabeth Sapp

Summary

For almost 30 years the Ming government sponsored numerous large naval expeditions in order to establish Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean basin. The Emperor at the time, Emperor Yongle agreed to organize the expeditions because he wanted to impose imperial control over foreign trade with China and to impress foregin people.


Expeditions

  • 1405-1433
  • Leader was Zheng He. He was a muslim from Yunnan in southwestern China
  • Zheng He left for expedotions with numerous vessels and large armed forces in case they were to be attacked
  • First expedition He had 317 ships with him and 28,000 military troops
  • Ships were called "treasure ships" because they had four decks that could hold 500+ passengers and massive stores of cargo
  • Some "treasure ships" measured to be 124 meters long and 51 meters wide
  • On the first three voyages He went to southeast Asia, India, and Ceylon
  • On the 4th voyage He went to the Persian Gulf and Arabia
  • Later on He made it down the east African coast, and went as far as Malindi (modern day Kenya)
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Zheng He's Gifts and Naval Power

Zheng He left gifts where he went and in return he recived rich and unusaul presents from his hosts. These included: african zebras, giraffes. He didn't think being hostile was ever necessary but sources say he ocassionally fought off pirates without much trouble. He had some civil disturbances in the past to mantain his authority and used of military force when needed. Zheng He often used his military/naval force to impress other foreign people. He also wouold get involved in civil disturbances or fights to show authority adn power over other people.


End of Voyages

The expeditions ended when Confucian ministers mistrusted Zheng He said that the resources used for the voyages were better off used for agriculture since they were so expensive and in the 1430's the Mongols mounted a new military threat from the northwest and land forces needed finacial support.
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