Until recently, the voyages of Zheng He, a Chinese fleet commander, were discovered. Zheng He made 7 voyages to travel along the China coast and across the Indian Ocean. During these trips, the main goals were establish new trade relationships, explore new lands and to show how great China was in power. Should they be celebrated? Zheng He’s voyages brought peace, he showed good relationships and showed amazing leadership.
Bringing peace and gifts among the South/Southeast of Asia is one of the reasons why his voyages should be celebrated. According to document D, it shows the gifts received and given by Zheng He. For example, according to the document, it says this as one of the objects, “Brava (East Africa), 1417, camels, ostriches.” This information tells about some gifts that were received. It represents peace since they were kindly giving away gifts to Zheng He. According to another document, document E, it states this “The Emperor has delighted in their loyalty and sincerity and has ordered Zheng He and others to take command of several thousands of imperial officers and soldiers … to go to their countries and confer presents on them by displaying our power while treating distant peoples with kindness.” Inferring from this section of document E, they wanted to show kindness. This supports the idea that their voyages were to bring peace and gifts among the Southeast of Asia. This led to establishing good relationships.
Establishing good trade and showing exceptional leadership should also be celebrated.
According to document C, it displays Zheng He’s Fleet per each voyage. It also shows the size of his ships. In order to control over 27,500 people, 7 times, it would take really good leadership to do so. According to document A, it shows the 7 voyages and when they took place. In the document it says “Voyage 1, Date: 1405-07, Furthest Port of Call: Calicut (India), Miles Roundtrip: 11,600.” Travelling to India, they wanted to seek trade relationships. In document E, it says “Thus the barbarians from beyond the seas, even those who are truly distant, [so that their language require] double translation, all have come to court bearing precious objects and presents.” This part from the Changle Inscription explains how they would establish trade with everyone, even those that they must translate their language with. Having trade as an influence is a really good thing. There are many people that oppose as to why we shouldn’t celebrate Zheng He’s voyages.
They wasted too much money into the fleet and they were mainly prepared for war, is a common opposition. Unlike Columbus, who was a navigator after Zheng He’s voyages, according to document B, Zheng He had 25 ships and 27,500 crew members. Columbus had 3 ships which were only about 1/5 of one of Zheng He’s treasure ships. He only had 90 people in his crew as well, about 300 times less than He’s crew. Using these statistics, He was more prepared for what to come. They knew about the lands but they did not know what dangers could be ahead. Columbus wasn’t prepared and therefore, the money used on the fleet was for a good cause. Also according to document C, it says “26, 803 people were soldiers, petty officers, sailors, sail makers, caulkers, anchormen, horse groomers, rudder operators, business manager, cooks, servants and interpreters.” Most of the crew weren’t soldiers, but other people that helped do and complete many tasks.
The voyages of Zheng He should be celebrated because of the peace and kindness he gave to Southeast Asia of his time, his exceptional leadership, his trade and how all the money invested wasn’t all just a waste. Even if the world doesn’t celebrate his voyages, they should at least have an idea of something great that he had done.