Interview With Emperor Hongwu
Reporter- Hello Emperor, nice to meet you. Thank you for coming here to this interview. Will you answer some questions for us?
Hongwu- Nice to meet you too. So what do you have for me?
Reporter- Emperor Hongwu, what are some events you had to go through when you were growing up?
Hongwu- When I was growing up, it was a very hard time for my family. The Mongols set very high taxes on the peasants and my family became very poor. My parents were both working for wealthy landowners and. They got paid very little but it was better than not working and getting nothing. I had to start working when I was 10 years old. I started to work on a farm. I collected rice and planted seeds. I kept working like that until I was 13 years old and went and started to work in the city. There I worked at several restaurants and cleaned up after customers and took out the trash. There I got paid more than what I got at the farm but it was still not enough for my family to develop. I had no education besides the time when I was younger than 10. My grandmother had taught me how to read and write. That was a major help. When I became 17, I quit my job and went to study with a tutor. Fortunately, my parents could afford my education and I excelled in culture, science, and math. We I became 20, I got a scholarship to a local collage. There I started to learn about ancient china and the government. Those years had really helped me succeed in years of ruling. When I was 24, I graduated from college and decided to get a job in business. There I made a lot of money and I shared it with my parents and they lived in a good home and had a good life. When I was 33, my father passed away. It was a hard time for me and my mother. My mother went to an elderly home and lived there for a few years until she passed away too. I was left alone without a family. I had some friends that had helped me through this hard time. Eventually I had to get over my parents deaths and move on. I disliked the way that the Mongols were ruling China and thought that I could do better. I decided to take action and fight against the Mongols. It was hard for them to fight because of the crisis they were in. There were many floods and landslides that year which meant that the Mongols had lost the Mandate of Heaven. This was the perfect time for me to take over and that's exactly what I did.
Reporter- Interesting. Aside from your past, let's talk about recent events. Why did you send Zheng He on the expedition to the states around China?
Hongwu- There can be two questions that you are asking in that one question but I will answer both. I chose Zheng He to go on the expedition because he was born a Muslim. This would help because some of the places that he was sailing to were Islamic countries. He could communicate with the people better there and therefore, be a bigger possibility that they would agree to the message. The second reason was because he had some of his ancestors' part of the Chinese government. This showed that his father might have had some knowledge about the government before that was passed down from generation to generation. He was a good choice for me and I knew that he would do well in the expedition. I did not think that all the places that Zheng He went to would agree to the request. I expected that at least some of the states would agree and join the Chinese empire.
Reporter- I think that you answered that question in a very nice way. I have two more questions for you. How do you think the people felt when you closed China's doors to trade?
Hongwu- I know that the people were mad but I did the right thing to protect China. If there was trade, China could be attacked and that would be the end of my empire. I obviously did not want to do that so I stopped the trade. China was trading with some places and was very successful but it could have changed very quickly. I have to be careful of the decisions I make and that is the hard part about being an emperor. Back to the question, I think that the people were mad that there was no trade. The items that we revived from other places started to decrease in numbers which meant they became more valuable. I do not think that was a big problem because the people always had the items here in China and could survive with them. I have been getting many complaints about my decision and I disagree with almost every one of them because they make no sense to me. It might be because it is coming from a peasant's point and that is why I do not understand them.
Reporter- What did you mean when you said "it could have changed very quickly"?
Hongwu- When I said that, I meant that invaders could come and invade my empire quickly. To prevent that from happening, I decided to close trade.
Reporter- I see. Now for my final question, just a quick thought of what you think. Are you proud about your accomplishments?
Hongwu- I am proud of my accomplishments and I think that I have led China in a good way so far and hope that I keep doing well for the rest of my reign. I am mostly proud that I went from a poor peasant to the Emperor of China. I think that is quite amazing. I know that I could not have done it without my parents and I greatly thank for what they have done for me. They were the best parents I could ever ask for.
Reporter- That is a very touching response. Thank you for your time Emperor.Hongwu- No problem!