China And Portugal During The Age Of Exploration Essay

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China and Portugal during the Age of Exploration
When the Chinese finally managed to overthrow the Yuan Dynasty during the Middle Ages, foreign interests increased. With the support of Ming Emperor Yung-Lo, China pursued expansion and trade. Zheng-He, a Chinese Muslim, set out to India, Persia and Africa from 1405 to 1433. Around that time, Portugal commenced their expansion voyages. Despite the fact that the Chinese had a larger population, Portugal was the one who went on to become the dominant nation in the Indian Ocean during the Age of Exploration. This could be attributed to the fact that in 1433, the Chinese abruptly pulled out of the Indian Ocean Trade and returned to their former isolation. The differing ideals in politics, economics, and religious matters are what caused the Portuguese to be the leading country in the Indian Ocean Trade rather than the Chinese.
Politically, China went through a golden age during the reign of the Ming Dynasty. In fact, under the leadership of Zheng- He, the Chinese managed to complete many voyages into the Indian Ocean during the 15th century due to their advanced technologies such as the magnetic compass. These voyages permitted China to establish diplomatic relationships with the countries of the Indian Ocean and expand Chinese influence to the west. However, China’s superiority complex and distrust of foreigners interfered with further exploration. By 1433, the year of Zheng-He’s death, China   discontinued all foreign trade, and by 1436, the emperor forbade the building of ships for overseas voyages.   Reasons for this stop can be seen in a passage entitled The Way and the Power that states, “Let the state be small and the people few: So that the people . . . fearing death, will be reluctant to move great distances, and . . . the people of the state will grow old and die without having had any dealings with those of another,” (Doc.1). China’s weariness of all things foreign and readiness to pull back from trade...

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