800px-Zheng_He%27s_ship_compared_to_Columbus%27s_JPG.jpg
A model of one of Zheng He's treasure ships compared to one of Columbus's ships
Admiral Zheng He

Zheng He was a Muslim eunuch and good friend of Emperor Zhu Di. Zhu Di sent him to lead the "treasure ship voyages." These voyages occured between 1405 and 1433. They were intended to force other kingdoms of the Indian Ocean to pay tribute to China. This included monetary tribute as well as kowtowing. Zheng He led seven such voyages. He went to many places including Arabia, East Africa, India, Indonesia, and Thailand. Within twelve years, Zheng He's voyages had brought the entire Indian Ocean under the influence of the Ming Dynasty of China. Zheng He died at sea on the seventh voyage in 1434.

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by: Hampton Webb on December 11, 2008