C. Why did superior Chinese naval technology in the 15th century NOT lead to Chinese “discovery” and control of a global trade system? (Significant terms: Ming dynasty, Cheng He, “tribute system,” Yuan dynasty).

A combination of concern over nomadic (Mongol) incursions from the north and more potential revenue generated from land-based trade probably led to the pull-back of tribute missions to the West during the early Ming period. Zheng He's travels as far west as eastern Africa with huge "Jong" ships and support ships were costly ventures that the Ming government was not interested in pursuing. These days, however, these travels are glorified by the government to promote China as a peaceloving non-invasive civilization (compared to the west). ***Follow and listen to the radio interviews linked below.

Here's an article in the Economist on a purported Chinese map of the world from 1418


And a rebuttal to the article here:



***Here's an audio archive of a piece on Public Radio International on BBC on January 17, 2006:


It's provides a good overview of the controversy and politics surrounding the contentions that the

Chinese discovered the Americas, and why history is always under revision.


The map under scrutiny: