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Columbus and Zheng He

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In the fifteenth century the world was a different place but it was still run by trade and the expansion of nations. One significant explorer was Zheng He, who was a Chinese explorer seeking trade through peace. Christopher Columbus was a Spanish explorer seeking new trade and opportunities for the Spanish empire. During this time these two men made great contributions to their nations in both areas. Christopher Columbus and Zheng He were both champions of their nations through exploration, but were two very different explorers.

In the early fifteenth century China was the world leader in trade and could be considered the world super power. During this time Zheng He, under leadership of the emperor, led the Treasure Fleet comprised of 27,000 men and 317 ships, which over thirty years explored lands from Asia to Africa. In his endeavors he sought to strengthen and expand trade as well as be an ambassador of China. Every place Zheng He traveled he greeted the natives with gifts such as silk and like most Chinese explorers was respectful of the different religions he encountered. Although in most situations he was peaceful, he was also known to bring peace by force when necessary. Zheng He's exploration strengthened China's global influence.

Towards the end of the fifteenth century the tides of time began to change with the emergence of European exploration. Probably the most well known was Christopher Columbus who in 1492 sailed the ocean blue aboard the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria. Under the monarchy of Spain he discovered the island of Hispaniola and its native people. After arriving Columbus sought to establish trade but was met with a peace offering from the native chief which he perceived to be a surrender of the island and its riches to Spain. Columbus would then travel back to Spain but return to conquer Hispaniola in the name of Spain and its religion.

Both Columbus and Zheng He explored the world for their countries and brought greatness to them in their own ways. Seeking trade they encountered indigenous people of the regions; they were in exposing them to different cultures. Although both were on similar missions they had different means to achieving the outcome. Zheng He, the more peaceful of the two, approached every culture and religion he encountered with respect. Most notably this was seen in Sri Lanka where he presented a stone engraved with different languages all of which spoke of equal gifts for all in order to bring peace to the nation. The stone was rejected by Buddhist warlords and as a result of the instability of these people, Zheng He was left to bring peace by force. Columbus on the other hand came in the name of Spain and the Catholic Church. He was instructed to establish trade with any natives with similar religious beliefs, if not, he was to convert them, but if met with



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