When China Ruled The Seas Essay, Research Paper
The situation, technology and resourses of China all came together to help the Ming Dynasty to launch the seven voyages. The timing was perfact for the launch of the voyages. The Ming Dynasty was the responsible party for reclaiming the rule of China, under the Chinese people. The Chinese looked at the Mongol rule in China as an insult to the power and greatness of their land. China had a history, a culture and traditions that the Chinese felt were superior to the rest of the world. So when the Mongol s surpassed them by conquering China and making it part of its huge empire, China could only mend the past by securing the future. This was the job of Zheng He, a chinese admril appointed to command the fleet of ships that would make China s presense in the world respected again. He was appointed by Zhu Di, the grandson of the fifth ming emperor, to do this great job.
The collection of events and technology that came together at the right time made the explorations by sea seem like a perfect outlet for the re-establishment of Chinese superiorty on the world. China had the invention of the compass to their name and a device like this helped them to have full controll of the seas. The compass greatly changed the accuracy of navagation, hence the Chinese waisted less time getting to their destinations. Not only did the Chinese sail the seas well but they had the best ships for the job. Chinese ship building technology was years ahead of the closest european competitor. Their ships were bigger and more effecient for carring poeple and things to trade. The ships sizes stood alone as an acomplishment of technology, the closeset ship in size next to it was only one fifth the size of the Chinese ship. The resources for making the ships was also an abundant substance in China at the time, so the cost of the ships was not as expensive as it would be in later years once the resources were depleated. The economy was also taking a turn for the better in the because of the silver mining industry. Many of the oldd mines that were previously closed had been reopened and a flood of wealth cam into the Dynasty s possestion, they in turn spent a lot of it in order to let it run through the ecomony. A good portion of the money had been spent on the hsips required for the journey. In all Zheng He fleet consisted of 317 ships carring 28,000 armend men. This massive collection of power was ment to strike fear and more importantly respect into those that they came in contact with. Although Zheng He did not bring the army for any real uses he did use the army in Ceylon, to settle a political dispute in the region. This helped to build a reputation for the strenght of the Chinese army. The reputation was also established throughout the Indian Ocean for the new saftey that the Chinese navy established. Zheng he got rid of many of the pirates that were responsible for the loss of the merchants revenues. This was one of the main purposes for the launch of the expiditions, showing the world the glory and power of China.
The voyages were not ment for colonization of forgien lands, the motovations for the voyage was dipolmacy and forgine relations. Zheng He also established trading posts in many of the places he visited. These posts had wearhouses that merchants could use to store their goods untill they could sell them. Zheng He also setup a serires of courier stations that Chinese merchants could rest at, the stations were about one day s journey apart from each other so that over night stayes could be easier for traders and travlers. This helped to improve the economy of China by making trading easier for the merchants. It also helped to spread the Chinese influence on the world, because many Chinese moved abrod to work in the all of the newly established businesses and wearhouses. In fact whole communties of chinese moved to places like Java to help with the trade and traffic.
The publice relations that Zheng He did on this trip showed the world the power and benevolence of China and esspically the Emperor of China. When countries saw the power of China they paied their respect by giving presents to the Emperor that were not found in China. Zheng He took back presents like a giraffe for the for Emperor s collection od exotice things. Others paid hommage by giving him gifts of Value like gold or jewerly. These exotic things that Zheng He brought to China exploded on the luxury trade market. All the of the upper class of China wanted and animal, spice or plant not native to China. The luxury trade became a symbol for the upper class of China.
Dimplomacy was another reason fo the expeditions of Zheng He. Zheng He travled to many countries to create friendly ties with leaders of the other nations. In many of the countries Zheng He established such good relations that he opened up a embassy like office to repesent China in the region. In 1914 Persian decided to open up their own embassy in main land China. This is a good reflection of the inntentions of the Chinese government at the time. The Emperor wanted other countries to rever China as a center for trade and culture. Zheng He did not only want to display China s greatness but was also intressed int he cultures of other countries. He kept a journal of the things he saw and the traditions of other people. Just as Zheng He asked questions and tried to learn about the lands and ways of the people he visited, others became intrested in the ways of China. This was the vision of Zhu Di the Emperor of China at the time.
Zhu Di wanted the world to see the Chinese empire as the superior power in the world. He was the one who saw the importance of these voyages and approved the funding and spending for the missions abroad. Unlike his father Zhu Di wanted to open up China to the forigen influence that would and commerence in the country, China was not really ready for this after living under such a conservative goverment like before. Zhu Di spent so much money on expansionism that depleated the budget of China. The geographial knowledge and forgein artifacts that came back to China were begining not to comensate for the money it was costing the government. The voyages were losing more and more support in the country. Esspically among the Confucian community, who felt that the money should be spent for rasing the standard of living in China for everyone. Instead the voyage were widening the gap between rich and poor. Only the rich were happy with all the new exoctic things coming into the country. At first the expeditions did help to raise the standard of living but soon the money needed to be spent in the country itself. The emperor tried to do it all at once and over extended himself and the budget.
Zhu Di wanted to finnish off the Mongol presence in China, repare the Great Wall, improve the Grand Cannal linking two major cities as well as the rebuilding of the new capital in Beijing. All these factors were not helped by the situation with the govenment at the time. The empire was slowly becoming decentralised, hence the task of mining silver became less efficient. Much of the silver in cirulation was unminted and out of governmental control of taxation. The flow of money into the budget was no enough to help the country out of the economic crissis. Support for the voyages was becoming scarce.
Much of the oppisition came from the poor and the Confucian community within China. The poor did not apperciate the money being spent on the voyages because they were not getting any of the benifits, esspically the poor outside to the coastal citys that only heard of the things happening in China. Among the Confucian community support for the voyages was always minimal, yet once it was clear how it was affecting China they really disaproved. This was a large group of peoples since many members of the government were educated in Confucian schools to acheive their places in the government. A good part of the oppisistion was in a posistion of power to voice their opinion with strenght. It was the goal of these philoshphcial figure to convert China back to the conservertive and isolated land that was free from forgine influence. Part of this process included usurping merchant class of their power in China and going on to become an agriculturlly based society. The merchants were considered to be the lower members of society. The confuciancians believed that if the bad influence of the merchants and the affect of foregin presence were gone, China would once again be a great society.
During all of the expedtions of Zheng He he made it his personal duty to collect records of the things he witnessed and things he saw. One of his greater acomplishments was the fact that he mapped out the routs and places he visted. This gave the world for the first time a picture of what the earth looked like. After the death of Zheng He China had already tried out their paitence with the expeditions. The Confucians were so happy to be rid of the burden of the expeditions that it wanted to get back to its former policy of isolationism. All the records with the excption of a few were destroyed at the same time Zhu Di the major supporter of the martime expedtions was replaced by another emperor who s main goal was to save the economyof China. Within China Zheg He did not make the lasting impact that he should have. All of his acomplishments and glory that he could have brought to the name of China was given up for the benifits of reform.
This unfourtnate and abrupt end to the expedtions of China leave the world with an intresting question; what if China had continued to be the forerunner in the discovery of the world? What would the world be like today if China had discovered America? The world as we know it would be completely different. Americans would be called something else and we would look asian and speak an Chinese or something similar. America might have gone through Communism and still be in the mids of developing their country. The difference are impossible to fathom, yet all we can do is wonder; what if ?