About this sample
About this sample
Words: 659 |
4 min read
Published: Sep 12, 2018
Words: 659|Page: 1|4 min read
The voyages of Zheng He, a Chinese fleet commander, have recently come to light, revealing his remarkable journeys spanning the coast of China and across the Indian Ocean. These expeditions had multifaceted objectives, including the establishment of new trade relationships, exploration of uncharted territories, and the demonstration of China's great power. So should we celebrate the voyages of Zheng He? This essay delves into the question, considering the aspects of peace, diplomatic relationships, and exceptional leadership that they brought to the forefront.
In the backdrop of the Ming Dynasty's zenith on July 11, 1405, Zheng He embarked on his inaugural voyage, marking the commencement of his renowned series of seven expeditions. While it might be tempting to draw parallels between Zheng He and notorious figures like Columbus, it is crucial to recognize the complexity of his journeys. These voyages were not characterized solely by peaceful interactions. Incidents such as attacks on the port of Sumatra and outbreaks of violence in Java in 1407, as well as the capture of Su-gan-la of Samudera in 1415, suggest that the missions entrusted to Zheng He by the Ming Emperor extended beyond peaceful exploration to establish Ming dominance in the Asian maritime world.
One compelling reason to celebrate Zheng He's voyages is their role in fostering peace and diplomatic exchanges throughout South and Southeast Asia. Historical documents provide insights into the benevolent aspects of these journeys. For instance, a document mentions, "Brava (East Africa), 1417, camels, ostriches," signifying the exchange of gifts. These offerings exemplify gestures of peace and goodwill, reflecting the intent to establish harmonious relations. Another document, labeled as document E, underscores the Emperor's satisfaction with the loyalty and sincerity of the emissaries, emphasizing their mission to confer presents and display China's power while treating distant peoples with kindness. These accounts indicate that Zheng He's voyages aimed at promoting peace and fostering positive relationships in the regions they visited.
Additionally, the voyages led by Zheng He contributed to the development of trade networks and showcased exceptional leadership. Managing over 27,500 crew members across seven expeditions required remarkable leadership skills. Document A provides an overview of these voyages, highlighting the significant distances covered and ports of call, such as Calicut in India. These journeys were instrumental in seeking trade relationships with various regions, demonstrating China's willingness to engage in commerce. The Changle Inscription mentioned in the essay illuminates their efforts to establish trade, even with those requiring language translation. Zheng He's leadership played a pivotal role in these successful endeavors.
It is important to address opposing viewpoints that criticize Zheng He's voyages, particularly the argument that excessive resources were allocated to the fleet, primarily for militaristic purposes. However, a comparative analysis with Columbus reveals a different perspective. Zheng He's fleet boasted 25 ships and 27,500 crew members, ensuring preparedness for the challenges ahead. In contrast, Columbus had a mere three ships and a crew of only 90, making Zheng He's expeditions substantially more robust and better equipped for the unknown. Document C underscores the diverse composition of Zheng He's crew, comprising various roles beyond soldiers, further emphasizing the multifaceted nature of the voyages.
In conclusion, Zheng He's voyages deserve celebration due to their contributions to peace, diplomatic relations, and trade, all underpinned by exceptional leadership. While criticisms exist, a nuanced understanding of the historical context reveals the significance of these expeditions. Zheng He's legacy is a testament to the positive impact of cross-cultural interactions and serves as a reminder of humanity's capacity to bridge divides and forge connections through exploration and diplomacy.
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