Expansion of China
Journey to States, Commanded by Zheng He
Yesterday, March 13th, 1405 Zheng He a court eunuch embarked upon the first of 7 planned expeditions to the states around China. The expeditions were planned to be held in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The reason of the journey was to deliver a message from Hongwu. The message had written, “We want to make an agreement. If you join China’s empire, we will trade with you.” Hongwu wanted to expand his dynasty into the west and this is how he decided to do it. He chose to give the states trade because he knew that China had some of the best goods in the world. If you could trade with China, you would be very successful.
The fleet that Zheng He sailed with was one of the biggest fleets at that time. The fleet included 62 treasure ships, 225 warships and patrol boats, 26,800 soldiers and sailors, 70 personal staff, 80 medical personnel, and 5 astrologers. The treasure ships had 50 luxuriously appointed cabins for people with a high class. A treasure ship could hold 500 people in their sleeping quarters. Treasure ships had the finest silk, porcelain, lacquerware, and pieces of carved jade. These were the items that China traded with the states if they agreed to the emperors message. The fleet was expected to sail 400 miles a day and stop every 10 days to trade with nearby port cities. The ships main destination was Calicut (the most important trading post in India).
The treasure ships were the biggest ships that the Chinese had built. The ships structure was made especially for ocean weather where there can be storms. The ships had rectangular sails which were made out of strong cloth so the strong winds wouldn’t rip them. Their body was made up of bamboo ribs and bamboo was a strong wood so it was strong and the ships would not break. Because of the bamboo ribs, the wood was flexible and it would fold up like an accordion when the ship was docked. There were water-tight compartments that the builders of the ship made so the ship would not sink. The ships could go through harsh weather and survive hurricanes and storms. This made the treasure ships one of the best types of ships there was at the time.