Between 1405 and 1433, the Ming government sponsored a series of seven naval expeditions led by Zheng He and the greatest armada the world had ever seen. Emperor Yongle designed them to establish a Chinese presence, impose imperial control over trade and impress foreign countries. With a many as 300 ships and 28,000 crewman, Zheng He s ships traveled to Southeast Asia, the Persian Gulf and as far as Africa, liberally dispensing gifts of Chinese porcelain and silk and in return receiving rich gifts from his hosts. Now, six centuries later, the truth about Zheng He s voyages are finally being told. Who is this extraordinary man who led seven voyages around the world eight decades before Columbus discovered America? And what was the true purpose of his voyages?
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