Admiral Zheng He and China's Treasure Fleet: A Forgotten Chapter in Maritime History

TLDR Admiral Zheng He led a series of groundbreaking voyages in the early 15th century, surpassing European achievements of the time. His fleet of enormous treasure ships strengthened China's ties with Southeast Asia, established China as a dominant power in Asia, and brought back exotic goods, but China later became more isolationist.

Timestamped Summary

00:00 China's Admiral Zheng He led a series of voyages in the early 15th century that surpassed anything Europe would do for centuries, with the largest wooden ships ever seen.
01:26 Admiral Zheng He, a eunuch who was born in China's southern Yunnan province in 1371, was responsible for building and sailing enormous ships across oceans almost a century before Europeans did.
02:40 In 1405, Admiral Zheng He set off on his first voyage with a fleet of 317 ships, including warships, merchant vessels, support ships, and giant treasure ships, which was larger than the Spanish Armada.
04:00 Admiral Zheng He's fleet of awe-inspiring treasure ships impressed locals in every port they arrived at during their expedition, which included stops in Southeast Asia and the resolution of a diplomatic issue between Java and China.
05:06 Over a period of 20 years, Admiral Zheng He commanded six voyages of the Ming treasure fleet, which strengthened China's ties with Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean, increased trade, established China as the hegemonic power in Asia, and brought back exotic goods and animals to China.
06:20 The voyages of Admiral Zheng He came to an end after the 7th voyage in 1433, for reasons that are still unclear, but despite doubts from historians, there is no doubt that the treasure fleet existed and had a significant impact on China's political influence and trade.
07:32 The voyages of Zheng He marked the peak of Imperial China's international influence, but after the treasure fleet, China became more isolationist and shifted its focus to internal affairs.
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