In the book, When China Ruled the Seas, Levathes talks about seven voyages made by the Chinese armadas during emperor Zhu Di's reign. Admiral Zheng was in control of many “Treasure ships”. These ships traded silk, porcelain, and many other fine goods. They sailed from India to East Africa, through Korea and Japan, and might have even traveled all the way to Australia. Levathes believes that it could have been very possible for China to have been able to create a great kingdom to rule over one hundred years before the Europeans even explored and expanded, with China's giant navy of about three thousand of these large treasure ships. The chief purpose of the fleet was diplomacy. Zhu Di's intent to make known his rise to the dragon throne
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It was a time of exploration and conquest, but it ended in a reclusion so great that less than a century later, it was a crime to even go to sea in a multi-masted ship. During the brief period from 1405 to 1433, seven epic expeditions brought China's "treasure ships" across the Seas around China, the Indian Ocean, Indonesia, Taiwan, the coast of India, the rich ports of the Persian Gulf, down the African coast, and perhaps even to Australia, three hundred years before Captain Cook was credited with its discovery.
Zhu Di had over 300 ships and some measured as much as 400 feet long and 160 feet wide, with upwards of nine masts and twelve sails, and combined crews sometimes numbering over 28,000 men. These extraordinary ships were the most technically advanced ships in the world with improvements like balanced rudders and bulwarked compartments that came way before European ships by centuries.
For thirty years foreign goods, medicines, geographic knowledge, and foreign culture flowed into China at an incredible rate. At this time, China extended its sphere of political power and influence throughout the Indian Ocean. Half the world was in China's grasp, and if the emperor and wanted he could’ve taken the other half quite easily. Instead, however, China turn would inward due to the emperor Liu Ta Xai outlawing overseas travel and halting all building and repair of such ships. He