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Sunday, September 04, 2005

Eastern Perspectives on Discovery

By now we all know that there is some question as to which Europeans first "discovered" America. What I didn't know until yesterday was that the Chinese probably visited the North American continent before Columbus - and that they came with a much bigger fleet.

The Chinese government is currently celebrating their maritime heritage with extensive celebrations of the 600th anniversary of China's most celebrated admiral, and potential North American visitor, Zheng He. He embarked on seven great voyages between 1405 and 1431, sailing into the Pacific, the Indian Ocean, the Persian Gulf, and possibly Australia and North America. Spiegel Online carries the full story.

According to Chinese sources Zheng He's fleet comprised 30,000 men and over 300 ships. These included Treasure ships, horse ships, supply ships, Fuchuan warships, troop transports, patrol boats and water tankers.

Books on Zheng He and the Chinese Fleet

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