The Yongle Emperor’s father, Zhu Yuanzhang (Emperor Hongwu) would have seen his son as unfilial, which means not observing the obligations of a child to a parent—even after the parent is dead.
When Yongle opened China, he demonstrated disrespect for his parent. Instead, he should have continued supporting the closed-door policy his father had instituted.
In Chinese society, to maintain a well-controlled country or a peaceful world requires the children to love and respect his or her parents even after death.
In fact, filial piety is not only a foundation of morality in China but also a fundamental basis of Chinese culture.
This also explains why each of China’s current presidents continues supporting the policies of the former president and Deng Xiaoping.
For change to take place in China, it usually comes slowly. Filial piety is the reason the People’s Liberation Army did not remove Mao during the Cultural Revolution and waited until he was dead to act.
Mandarin with English subtitles
However, when the Yongle Emperor acted against his father’s wishes, he demonstrated courage because he knew many in the imperial court would consider him unfilial.
Emperor Yongle commissioned building the great fleet that Admiral Zheng He sailed as far as Africa.
Admiral Zheng He was selected to command because he was an organizer, a diplomat and could be trusted. He was not a merchant or a conqueror.
Although during this time, many Chinese immigrated to Southeast Asia, the Yongle Emperor had no interest in establishing colonies outside China.
In the north, it was a different story. Emperor Yongle had to deal with ceaseless attacks by the Mongolian tribes.
For the first time in centuries, an emperor sent a Chinese army of 100,000 beyond the Great Wall to end this threat and bring peace to China.
When the nomadic tribes retreated, a larger army was raised and sent after them.
If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.