When the Yongle Emperor died in 1424, China’s Hongxi Emperor stopped the voyages of China’s largest fleet. Source: BBC
A century later, about 1529, another Ming Emperor burned all records of the fleet. This decision to withdraw from the world may have resulted in China not being ready to confront the Western Imperial powers that would arrive in the 19th century starting the Opium Wars, which would devastate China.
The voyages of Chinese Admiral Zheng Hi’s armada were rediscovered in Fujian province in the 1930s. The story was etched in a pillar. By the final, seventh voyage, the fleet had covered over 50,000 kilometers or 30,000 miles and was comprised of three hundred ships and 28,000 men.
By comparison, Christopher Columbus set sale in 1492 with 3 small ships and 88 men. Erik the Red, a Viking explorer, also crossed the Atlantic in even smaller ships to build a settlement in Greenland around 1,000 AD. Some archeologists suggest that the Phoenicians may have reached the Americas before the Vikings and Columbus around 500 BC. Some even say as early as 1500 to 1200 BC.
Today, a joint Chinese-Kenyan expedition of archaeologists plans to find and excavate a ship from Zheng Hi’s fleet, which may have sunk during a storm near the Lamu islands. Source: Old Salt Blog
Many layers of myth surround China’s ancient mariner. According to Kenyan lore, some of his shipwrecked sailors survived and married local women.
DNA tests have reportedly shown evidence of Chinese ancestry and a young Kenyan woman, Mwamaka Shirafu, was given a scholarship to study Chinese medicine in China, where she now resides. Source: Archaeology Daily
Since the launch of China’s “Getting Rich is Glorious” generation, American fast food has become popular in urban China with plans to invade rural areas.
Currently, a study that received a “majority of its support from the Chinese people and Chinese government” called the China Projectis being conducted to observe the relationship of disease patterns to diet, particularly the move from the traditional Chinese diet to US fast food.
Professor T. Colin Campbell, an “outspoken vegan”, has implicated the increased consumption of animal protein in particular as having a strong correlation with cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and other diseases that, while common in Western countries, were once considered rare in China.
Diabetes Mellitus says that a diet rich in refined carbohydrates is a major factor responsible for diabetes.
Obesity is also a major factor. Although no one has discovered how sugar contributes to diabetes, it is the most well known sugar related disorder. Source: Innvista
Wellsphere shows that as sugar consumption goes up, fatal diseases increase.
In fact, The processing of sugar follows the same trail as the opium poppy. It has habit-forming sensory pleasures just as heroin, opium, and alcohol, meaning that what opium did to China in the 19th century, Western fast food is doing today.
Jingdezhen in Jiangxi province is a well-known Chinese porcelain city and has been an important production center in China since the early Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD). Chinese porcelain originated in the Shang Dynasty (16th century BC). Source: China Paper Online
Frances Miller writes about collecting antique Canton china at Suite 101.com. He says, “Since the 18th century, blue and white porcelain china originating from the port of Canton has been filling cabinets in America… and was a staple on the dining tables of such prominent Americans as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.”
“The demand for Chinese products—tea, porcelain, silk, and nankeen (a coarse, strong cotton cloth)—continued after the Revolution. Having seen the British make great profits from the trade when the colonies were prevented from direct trade with China, Americans were eager to secure these profits for themselves.” Source: Early American Trade With China
This hunger for Chinese products, while the Chinese found little in the West to buy, led to the Opium Wars, which Britain and France started and won to force China to even the trade imbalance. Then China sold the West silk, porcelain and tea while the West sold China opium.
Today, we still hear angry voices complain about the unfair trade imbalance between China and the US. Can anyone blame China for maintaining a powerful military?
Sulfur is the main ingredient for gunpowder. It was first developed during the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 AD). During the Northern Sung Dynasty, in 1044 AD, the book “Essentials of Military Art” published several formulas for gunpowder production. It is ironic that the Sung Dynasty (960 – 1276 AD) used a Tang Dynasty invention to defeat them.
Several ingredients for gunpowder were in wide use for medicinal purposes during the Spring and Autumn Period of China’s history (722 – 481 BC).
According to the famous book “Records of History”, Chang Sangjun, shared secret prescriptions with Pien Ch’iao (around 500 BC), who promised not to give the secret away then became famous as a doctor of Chinese medicine.
Gunpowder was discovered a thousand years ago by accident. While mixing ingredients to find an elixir for immortality, Chinese scientists stumbled on the formula. Fireworks and rockets came first to scare away evil spirits. The irony is that gunpowder, which has killed millions used as weapons, came about during the search for eternal life.
One theory says that the knowledge of gunpowder came to Europe along the Silk Road around the beginning of the 13th century, hundreds of years after being discovered in China. It is also ironic, that Britain and France used advanced gunpowder weapons to defeat China during the 19th century in the two Opium Wars.
Six hundred years after paper was invented, the Chinese invented printing and the first printed work wasBuddhist scripture during the Tang Dynasty (618 – 906). The most basic printing techniques are older. Engraving came later. The carving, printing technique originated during the Tang Dynasty
When we talk about paper and printing, it is to collect knowledge, preserve and share it.
Once there were paper books being printed to share Buddhist ideas, the religion spread through China into Korea and Japan. Over a thousand years printing techniques continued to improve until there were multi-colored printings.
Then during the Sung Dynasty, the printing board was invented, which used clay characters. One character was carved into a small block of clay. Then the clay was put in a kiln to heat into a solid block. This method was efficient for printing thousands of sheets. These blocks would be placed together to create sentences and paragraphs of Chinese characters.
Later, the characters were carved into wood. Over time, printing was developed into an art. In fact, Ancient Chinese culture was preserved due to the invention of paper and these printing methods, which wouldn’t reach Europe until after 1300 AD, almost 800 years later.
Without the Chinese invention of printing, Christianity, Islam and Buddhism may not have spread to the extent that they have.