Sample History Essays on When China Ruled the Waves

Centuries ago, China was known as a giant superpower when it came to sea exploration. This was known as the Age of Discovery that lasted between the years 1405-1433 (Paul). The explorations were led by Zheng He, using a vast and unstoppable fleet. These explorations began during the Ming dynasty era. Zheng He voyages started the journey from the south of China all the way through the Indian Ocean and finally along the coastline of East Africa. The explorations expanded the political influence of China globally. The paper explores some of the events that took place during the ‘Age of Discovery’.

“When China Ruled the Waves” is a one hour documentary revealing the history of Ming Dynasty ships. These treasure ships were constructed in the 15th Century. The Ships enabled China to explore and conquer the world. The program is an in depth discussion of the time Emperor Zhu Di ruled China and his interest in sea exploration led by Zheng. The documentary targets students who are interested in the history of China because it is set on a timeline in China known as ‘Age of Discovery’.

There are a number of significant discoveries that can be attributed by Zheng He world exploration in the 15th Century. From 1405 to 1433, he had discovered more than 30 countries in Asia and Africa. These expeditions led to 318 foreign envoys visiting China (Hartogs). This led to good foreign ties between China and these countries. Generally Zhen He was a voyage leader is known to have had two incentives for his sea explorations. Unlike the motivations that Europeans had when it came to sea exploration, Zeng He was not after accumulating wealth or conquering any nation. The political issues that were being witnessed in China had a lot to do with the motivations of Zhen. Since Emperor Yung-lo had taken leadership by overthrowing the previous leadership he was working closely with Zeng He.  The emperor that had been overthrown had not been captured instead he had gone into hiding. Sources claimed that he had run away to southern Asia and that is the reason Zeng He voyages were heading into that direction in search of him. However, some historians do not think that was the case because Zeng He was not interested to look for the ex-emperor. Instead Zheng He voyages were a sign of a show off.

China was not able to discover the new world due to sudden change when it came to matters concerning incentives. This was after the government stopped any other funding in the naval expedition. As a result of this no other ship was built and the remaining ones were left to rot. The government later on destroyed all records and evidence of Zheng He voyages eventually withdrawing from the sea completely (Nuwer). During this time the Portuguese and Spanish had intensified their sea exploration. If China had discovered the America they would have really made great use of it. On the other hand, if they had really continued with its maritime expedition, they would have discovered America. However, they would have not made colonies in the new continent. The main reason is that Chinese exploration was interested in the people who lived on the coastline. There were very many people who they could have contact with to assist them to trade with the inland people.

Indeed, China was a superpower when it came to sea exploration during the Ming Dynasty. Zeng He is one of the greatest voyage leader during the Age of Discovery because he commanded a large number of fleet that had never been witnessed elsewhere in the world. As a result of government policy of not to fund the expeditions, China sea domination came to an end.


Works Cited

Hartogs, Jörgen. “Zheng He And The Discoveries He Made.” History, Archaeology, Folklore and so on. N.p., 2015. Web. 1 Apr. 2019.

Nuwer, Rachel. “Six Centuries Ago, Chinese Explorers Left This Coin Behind In Africa.” Smithsonian. N.p., 2013. Web. 1 Apr. 2019.

Paul Musgrave. “Zheng He’s Voyages And The Symbolism Behind Xi Jinping’s Belt And Road Initiative.” The Diplomat. N.p., 2017. Web. 1 Apr. 2019.